Trauma in school communities: How schools cope with the impact of trauma

John Joseph Ganz, University of Pennsylvania


In the last 10 years, schools (primary, elementary and secondary) in our country have been drawn into taking a position on how to, or if to, respond to the increase in violence that is impacting our school communities. Though violence may not be a new phenomenon to schools, the role of the school and the nature of that violence are new. Schools can no longer look solely to outside agencies, social institutions or other resources to deal with violence as it touches their communities. Yet, an ambivalence has developed within school communities as to the role of schools in reaction to violence and the emotional and psychological trauma it causes within these communities. This dissertation addresses these issues by bringing together responses by individuals and school communities to a wide range of traumatic stressors. It also addresses the theoretical, as well as practical approaches to trauma and victimization as it occurs in the school community in reaction to trauma due to violence. An extensive literature search, past professional experience of the writer, interviews with school officials and a survey of school officials were employed to gather data for this dissertation. The resulting data and discussion are divided into the following sections: A historical review of schools and violence; interventions vs education--the role of the school; cultural issues and relevant interventions; traumatic stressors as they impact schools, cumulative exposure to violence and critical events (episodic events outside the normal experience of most people); school based intervention models; school planning and implementation; critical event intervention and cumulative exposure intervention. Conclusions brought about by this dissertation include: The confirmation of the presence of trauma within the school venue; that this trauma is impacted by a variety of influences including culture; the existence of ambivalence on the part of educators as to the role of the school in response to this trauma; and the importance of and variety of policies and plans dealing with school based response to trauma within the school community.

Subject Area

Academic guidance counseling|Educational psychology|School administration

Recommended Citation

Ganz, John Joseph, "Trauma in school communities: How schools cope with the impact of trauma" (1996). Dissertations available from ProQuest. AAI9639694.