Social Work

Date of Paper/Work


Degree Name

Master of Social Work (M.S.W.)

Type of Paper/Work

Clinical research paper


Sarah Ferguson


Disruptive behavior in the elementary school setting has become an increasing concern for educators, school personnel, and mental health professionals. There is more time spent on discipline and redirecting, which can impact the other students in the classroom. In particular externalizing behaviors, aggressive or hyperactive acts, are at the forefront of concern for many teachers. This research further explored the educators’ description of disruptive behavior, insight to the sources of the behavior, and interventions available for child mental health services. This study also explored if behaviors differed for children who had a history of trauma versus other childhood mental health concerns. The experiences of seven elementary school educators were gathered through qualitative semi-structured interviews. The educators varied in length of teaching from seven months-four years. The data was analyzed and then coded. The themes gathered from the data included: description of disruptive behavior, age related behavior, causes of disruptive behavior, trauma in the classroom, family support, teacher accommodations, and school mental health services. These findings suggest all of the educators have had experience working with children who have a history of trauma. It was reported that disruptive behavior in the younger lower grade levels were a product of traumatic experiences; but the children in the upper grade levels (fourth and fifth) displayed behaviors not necessarily related to a history of trauma. The educators all noted the importance and use of the mental health services at their school. Future research and implications discussed.


classroom behavior, childhood trauma, disruptive behavior, elementary educators

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.