Trauma is the natural response to events that may happen in a person's life. Whilst the experience of a significantly catastrophic event often causes trauma, more subtle experiences can result in emotional trauma too.
People will often link trauma to events such as a violent attack or an accident such as a car crash.
It can be easy to forget that trauma can also be experienced following episodes of bullying, witnessing domestic abuse or childhood neglect. We must not also forget how Covid-19 is having a traumatic effect on children and young people too.
However, it isn't necessarily the actual event that will determine ‘if’ an event is traumatic - it comes down to the individual's emotional experience of the event.
The deeper the fear felt by the individual, the more likely it is that they will be ‘traumatised’.
Considering the breadth of triggers for trauma is all the more important when supporting children and young people, as anything that disrupts their sense of safety can result in trauma.
It is important to consider that children and young people who have been exposed to persistent trauma are especially vulnerable to the impact of subsequent trauma.
The way that a child or young person may react in response to trauma is influenced by their age, the stage of their development, exposure to previous trauma and it is important to take into consideration cultural factors too.
However, nearly all children and young people exhibit some kind of distress or behavioural change in the initial phase of recovery from trauma.
Changes such as developing new fears, feeling sad, irritability and having nightmares, can last from a few days to a few months, and will typically fade as the experience is processed. This is not always the case and if things get worse for the child or young person, it is important to seek more specialised help.
Barnardo's began a journey into becoming a Trauma Responsive Organisation in 2019 and is at the forefront of understanding the impact of trauma on children, young people and their families. We are here to help you by offering up to date, tried and tested resources to support your students.