Understand and empathise


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Child sitting in jeans in the door by Rubberduck1951 is licensed under CC0

“Childhood neglect is the most damaging trauma. The child must not have the basic needs threatened in any way or survival will be all they think about” – Dave Ziegler

Overview and learning outcomes

Chapter one focuses on understanding the nature and impact of child maltreatment on the academic and social-emotional development of students. This chapter is organised into:

  • Understanding child maltreatment, including an introduction to the nature and prevalence of child maltreatment
  • Childhood trauma, and the impact of child abuse and neglect
  • Trauma informed practice and implications for educators

On successful completion of this chapter, you should be able to:

  • Understand types of childhood abuse and neglect and the related risk and protective factors
  • Know the pervasive impact of adverse childhood experiences on the physical and emotional wellbeing of children
  • Be aware of the influences on the development of post-traumatic stress reactions in children
  • Identify the range of symptoms associated with complex trauma and its impact on learning
  • Understand the principles of trauma informed practice in education


Every day, children enter their classrooms bringing backpacks, pencils, paper—and their unique views of the world. Every child has their own expectations and insights, formed from experiences at home, in the community, and at school. Inclusive schools and teachers recognise and respond to the diverse needs of their students, accommodating both different styles and rates of learning and ensuring quality education to all through quality curricula, organisational arrangements, teaching strategies, resource use, and partnerships within their communities.

When children witness violence between their adult caregivers or experience abuse or neglect, they can enter the classroom believing that the world is an unpredictable and threatening place. Teachers who understand the effects of such experiences of abuse and neglect on children’s education, who are able to develop teaching practices to help them, and who are able to participate actively and collaboratively in the systems designed to support these children, will not only improve educational outcomes for these children but will assist in their healing and recovery.


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Trauma Informed Behaviour Support: A Practical Guide to Developing Resilient Learners Copyright © 2020 by University of Southern Queensland is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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