Hawaiʻi also has a unique context in that addressing broader cultural, historical and intergenerational trauma is especially important. For Native Hawaiian youth, this kind of trauma can be felt across makua and kūpuna, recognizing years of impact from colonization and the loss of sovereignty. This real trauma includes but is not limited to the loss of land, language and cultural identity.

Intervention is crucial to mitigating the detrimental effects of childhood trauma. Implementing trauma-informed, or trauma-sensitive, practices in schools can have a significant impact, including improvements in behavior, fewer suspensions and expulsions and improvements in academic achievement.1 Osher, David. “Trauma and Learning Policy Initiative (TLPI): Trauma-sensitive schools descriptive study.” (2018). With quality trauma-informed training for educators and school staff, schools can better support students to feel engaged and connected with teachers and peers. Trauma-sensitive training gives educators the tools to be responsive to the social, emotional and behavioral needs of their students.

Closely related to the concept of trauma-sensitive schools is social-emotional learning (SEL), or social and emotional learning. SEL is a whole child approach to education that is not intended to be limited to only supporting students experiencing trauma, but many of the same principles resonate.

SEL is the process through which all young people and adults acquire and apply the knowledge, skills and attitudes to develop healthy identities, manage emotions and achieve personal and collective goals, feel and show empathy for others, establish and maintain supportive relationships and make responsible and caring decisions. SEL advances educational equity and excellence through authentic school-family-community partnerships to establish learning environments and experiences that feature trusting and collaborative relationships, rigorous and meaningful curriculum and instruction and ongoing evaluation.2 https://casel.org/what-is-sel/

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