The impact of trauma and toxic stress on the current generation of teachers and students cannot be overemphasized. Recent political events, racial justice issues, COVID surges, economic instability, and school violence have led to increasing levels of anxiety and dysfunction across a generation of learners. Contemporary medical and psychological research has cemented the fact that childhood stress and trauma can have a tremendous impact on mental and physical health outcomes throughout life. This is an issue for society in general, including schools, which are only now beginning to appreciate what trauma and toxic stress really mean and comprehend how detrimental they are to brain development. Former California surgeon general Dr. Nadine Burke Harris has asserted that childhood trauma is “a public health crisis” (Burke Harris, 2014).
On the bright side, updated research also strongly indicates that we humans have a profound ability to heal ourselves and each other. This phenomenon is often referred to as post-traumatic growth and can be demonstrated in survivors of violence, war, disasters, bereavement, economic devastation, and serious illnesses or injuries.
Schools can and must play a critical role in facilitating this psychological growth by helping imbue learners with resilience. Read more