Urban Elementary Teachers' Perceptions of Challenging Behaviors and Childhood Trauma


Social Work

Date of Paper/Work


Degree Name

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

Type of Paper/Work

Clinical research paper


Renee Hepperlen


This research study explored urban elementary school teachers' perceptions toward and responses to trauma-related challenging behaviors in their students. Review of current literature focused on the effects of childhood trauma, trauma in urban schools, and the characteristics of trauma-informed schools. A quantitative research design was used. Data was collected through the distribution of an online survey. Sixty-eight participants completed a 71-item survey about challenging behaviors and childhood trauma. Descriptive and inferential statistics were used to analyze data. The findings showed that participants encountered many challenging and trauma-related behaviors in their classrooms. Higher levels of teacher knowledge about trauma and challenging behaviors were found to be associated with less reported difficulty in managing challenging and trauma-related behaviors, more confidence in working with challenging and trauma-related behaviors, and lower levels of teacher stress. Implications for social work practice and policy include the importance of the school social worker's role in providing support for understanding and responding to childhood trauma in schools, and the need for more trauma-informed practices in urban schools, especially increased teacher and staff training and support for responding to childhood trauma.


urban schools, childhood trauma, challenging behaviors

Creative Commons License

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