How Trauma in Today’s World Affects Students


Sidney Marenkovic, Sophomore Staff Writer

Trauma is a deeply distressing or disturbing experience. Many can associate trauma with serious injury, violence, or death, but do we know the extent of how trauma is affecting students?

The National Survey of Children’s Exposure to Violence has found that over 60% of children had experienced trauma in the past year. These forms of trauma included abuse, crime, and violence. Specific catalysts include, “but are not limited to, road rage, school violence and mass execution of students, corporate violence, airline tragedies, increased national disasters, government unrest, and presidential impeachment.”  It is known that these effects are much more impactful in a negative way on adolescents than adults because people of adolescent age do not have the necessary coping skills to deal with the trauma they are experiencing. Sophomore Ellie Lambert states, “I think paying attention to trauma is changing students because events like this are so normalized nowadays. It is scary to come to school everyday and hear some of the stories other classmates’ experiences;  it definitely distracts me.” In fact, “one in three students today show signs of PTSD accompanied by factors of avoidance, re-experiencing, and negative moods.”

These symptoms have made changes in students that can be recognized by teachers and parents in a number of ways. High School French teacher Mrs. Kesha Szeljack says, “I definitely think trauma impacts all parts of a person’s life including attention and memory because the chemical chemistry of your brain can change while experiencing trauma.” Students often have a harder time retaining information and new topics in the classroom due to the overwhelming amount of trauma that they may have experienced. The stress of trauma may also limit one’s ability to relate to others and control emotions.

Even if you have not experienced trauma yourself, paying attention to the trauma that others are experiencing around you can change you in the same way. “The Ripple Effect” is a good way to explain how trauma is spread so easily. While the ones at the center of trauma are being directly affected, the emotions are felt by many more people, even though they are more subtle.

Trauma is changing the way students view situations inside and outside of the classroom; consider the increased number of school shootings for instance. Safety is a question that seems to be asked more frequently every day. When students exist in a world where trauma happens often, precautions are taken seriously, and the well-being of those students is being looked at directly. “I think schools should really bring attention to issues like these because it is often ignored.  That’s why I believe our shooting and disaster drills are necessary,” says Junior Rylie Campbell.

Although trauma can have the power to change the lives of students, the effects do not have to last a lifetime. The American Psychological Association has discovered that through psychological interventions, long-term effects can be prevented. Programs that have been created for those who are dealing with trauma have made an immense impact on the lives of people who are dealing with trauma. So if you seem recognize that someone seems to be suffering, it is important to reach out to that person and try to help in any way possible.