Trauma and Resilience

Untreated Trauma Can Have Long-Term Impact on Youth

Trauma is a distressing event or set of experiences that can have immediate and long-term impact on a child’s mental and physical health. Trauma is common in children and can result from abuse or neglect, community or family violence, stressors of poverty, and bullying.

Up to 18% of children in California1 have experienced two or more adverse childhood experiences (ACEs), a way of measuring traumatic events. Long-term exposure to trauma can develop into what is known as “toxic stress,” the extreme or frequent activation of the body’s stress response. This form of trauma can have major impacts on physical, social, and emotional well-being. Children and adolescents are particularly vulnerable, as toxic stress can cause fundamental changes to brain structure and can dramatically alter the ability to learn and interact with others.

Trauma and Resilience Resources

  • Healing the Hurt: Trauma-Informed Approaches to the Health of Boys and Men of Color – This brief provides an overview of the research on trauma, its disproportionate prevalence among boys and men of color, and its impact on a wide variety of short- and long-term outcomes. It also describes what is meant by a trauma-informed approach and suggests specific ways in which organizations can ensure that they can better meet their clients needs through trauma-informed services.
  • National Child Traumatic Stress Network – The National Child Traumatic Stress Network (NCTSN) provides information on the wide variety of types of trauma, as well as resources and tools for diverse audiences, including educators and health care professionals.
  • Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction, Trauma-Sensitive Schools Toolkit – This comprehensive resource includes a trauma-sensitive schools assessment and checklist; sample teacher in-service presentation; and webcasts, videos and online articles to learn more about trauma.
  • The Heart of Learning & Teaching: Compassion, Resiliency, & Academic Success – A compassionate teaching and trauma-informed schools guide developed by partners Washington State with specific strategies for teachers and classrooms.
  • Cognitive Behavioral Intervention for Trauma in Schools – The Cognitive Behavioral Intervention for Trauma in Schools (CBITS) program is a school-based, group and individual intervention. It is designed to reduce symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), depression, and behavioral problems, and to improve functioning, grades and attendance, peer and parent support, and coping skills. The CBITS website includes a wide variety of free resources, including everything you need to implement CBITS in your school.
  • The Sanctuary ModelThe Sanctuary Model is a theory-based, evidence-supported model that provides a clear and structured approach to creating an organizational culture that facilitates the delivery of trauma-informed services. The Sanctuary Model offers resources and trainings that can be applied in a wide variety of settings, including health clinics and schools.

Making Schools and Classrooms Trauma-Informed

Due to the impact trauma can have on youth, the California School-Based Health Alliance works to identify best practices for trauma-informed, healing-centered, and resilience-focused work in schools and school-based health centers in California. 

CSHA’s Restorative, Trauma-Informed School-Wide Assessment

The intention of the Restorative, Trauma-Informed School-Wide Assessment is to support school leaders and staff in assessing their use of restorative, trauma-informed practices and to identify the strengths and areas of improvement for cultivating a restorative, trauma-informed school. The term restorative reflects an integration of restorative practices. Restorative practices are relational approaches used to proactively build a connected, inclusive school culture through the use of regular restorative “circles,” restorative communication strategies, and respectful and equitable approaches to conflict and discipline. A trauma-informed school is one that: Realizes the widespread impact of trauma and understands potential paths for healing and resilience; Recognizes how trauma and stress show up in leadership, staff, students, families, and others in the school community; Responds by fully integrating knowledge about trauma into policies, procedures, practices, and the overall school culture; and actively Resists Re-traumatization (adapted from SAMHSA’s Concept of Trauma and Guidance for a Trauma-Informed Approach, 2014). Together, a restorative, trauma-informed school integrates these two approaches to promote social and educational justice and resilience for youth, their families, and school staff.

Trauma and Resilience Case Study

Frick Middle School (Oakland, California)

CSHA is working with Oakland Unified School District to support thirteen school-based health centers serving ten Oakland middle schools to increase trauma screenings and interventions, improve school culture and climate, and identify strategies to maximize Medi-Cal billing and future funding opportunities to continue this work for our students. One of the schools in this program is Frick Impact Academy, who is shifting their school culture and climate through wellness programming. Read the full case study.

(1) Data Resource Center for Child and Adolescent Health. Adverse Childhood Experiences Among Oakland and California Youth. Accessed from