Trauma and its Consequences

Parents and caregivers who have been socially marginalized in any way may feel alienated by institutions such as a school. Those with a history of trauma related to schools may develop attitudes, beliefs and behaviours in order to protect themselves from further trauma. Parents and caregivers with a childhood history of mistreatment or bullying at school may prejudge the school experience, and anticipate that it will be a negative experience for children. They may harbour fear that their children will be abused – by peers or adults and expect such violence as ‘’inevitable in children’’. If bullying is connected to their social identity or life experience, they may feel particularly fearful. For example, Aboriginal families who have lived a legacy of intergenerational trauma related to severe collective discrimination and abuse in the Canadian school system (in both residential and mainstream schools) may be more likely to feel negatively toward or fearful of all players in the system and school itself. Having experienced racial, sexual harassment or homophobic or transphobic harassment, parents and guardians are often on the lookout for signs of this in their children.

These families may also have developed an intense level of rage that is expressed explosively when their own children re-visit their negative experiences. They are often desperate and committed to ensuring that their own children do not go through the same experience.

Their anger may partially stem from a belief and an assumption based on personal and collective experience that no one is listening and no one will help. They may not believe in the school’s capacity or willingness to make a difference and expect the school to ignore their concerns.