Trauma-Sensitive Schools and Social Justice: A Critical Analysis


The creation of trauma-sensitive schools has become an increasingly central focus of school reform and urban school reform in particular. While these initiatives have been framed as social justice imperatives, this framing warrants critique. This critical analysis surveys the history, models, and documented outcomes of trauma-sensitive approaches in K-12 education. Special attention is given to gaps in existing frameworks which lead to a decontextualized understanding of disproportionality, an apolitical conception of schools, and a deficit orientation toward families and communities. The authors advocate for the integration of social justice education into frameworks for trauma-sensitive schools as an initial step toward addressing these issues.

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Gherardi, S.A., Flinn, R.E. & Jaure, V.B. Trauma-Sensitive Schools and Social Justice: A Critical Analysis. Urban Rev (2020) doi:10.1007/s11256-020-00553-3

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  • Trauma-sensitive schools
  • Trauma-informed schools
  • Trauma-informed care
  • Trauma
  • Social justice
  • Equity