National Clearinghouse on Homeless Youth and Families

Childhood Trauma and Its Effect on Healthy Development

National Center for Mental Health Promotion and Youth Violence Prevention
Year Published: 2012
National Center for Mental Health Promotion and Youth Violence Prevention
Safe Schools, Healthy Students, National Center Brief, July 2012, 9 pages.

Many children have experienced or witnessed trauma that can negatively impact their success in school performance, interpersonal relationships, and healthy development. Children who have been exposed to trauma may develop coping mechanisms and behaviors that interfere with academic success and impair social-emotional development. However, families, school staff, and communities can help prevent these negative consequences by providing a network of supports to help them overcome traumatic experiences. It is important for schools, communities, parents, caregivers, and others serving children and families to understand the full impact of trauma on children and adolescents. In this brief, the authors define trauma; examine the stress response to trauma and its impact in childhood, adolescence, and adulthood; review risk, resilience, and protective factors related to trauma; and discuss the relevance for Safe Schools/Healthy Students project directors.

Education Development Center, Inc. (EDC), 43 Foundry Avenue, Waltham, MA 02453-8313; Telephone: (617) 96-7100, TTY: (617) 964-5448, Website:
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