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School Response After a Traumatic Event

Traumatic Event for Schools

What is a Traumatic Event?

Traumatic events are situations that may be sudden or unexpected, involve a shocking nature of events, and produce feelings of horror, terror, or helplessness. Some examples of traumatic events include:[1]

  • Physical, sexual or emotional abuse
  • Neglect
  • Witnessing or being the direct victim of interpersonal violence (domestic, dating violence)
  • Witnessing or being the direct victim of community violence (gang violence, riots, school shootings)
  • Severe motor vehicle and other accidents
  • Medical trauma including sever injury or life threatening illness
  • Natural and human-made disasters
  • Accidental or intentional sudden death of a loved one or peer
  • Exposure to war, terrorism or refugee conditions

Research has shown that adolescents who encounter a traumatic event may experience social, emotional and even academic consequences as a result of the traumatic event. Adolescents experiencing a traumatic event may be more prone to engage in risky behaviors, less likely to make realistic evaluations of danger and safety, and may experience symptoms of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).[2] Children and youth may demonstrate one or many of the following post traumatic responses:[3]

  • Anxiety and/or Anger
  • Suicidal Thoughts or Feelings
  • Depression
  • Substance Abuse and Drinking
  • Fear
  • Frequent mood changes
  • Truancy
  • Fighting
  • Impaired concentration and problem solving abilities
  • Withdrawal from relationships
  • Difficulty communicating
  • Poor school performance


A Simple Way Safe2Tell Colorado Can Help

In the aftermath of traumatic events, Safe2tell Colorado engages young people to know the importance of what to look for and to recognize people who need help. They can trust that day or night, when they report concerns directly to Safe2Tell Colorado, it will be followed up on.

If a child or youth has experienced a traumatic event and you witness him or her engaging in risky or harmful behavior, you can make an anonymous Safe2Tell Colorado report, which will alert a team of caring, committed adults of the situation. Safe2Tell Colorado reports do lead to interventions for youth and children who are struggling and provides the accountability and follow-up required to ensure action is taken on every concern received.  


Printable Resources


Additional Resources and Information


Acts of School Violence:

Sandy Hook Columbine Cooperative:

Center for Study and Prevention of Violence:

U.S. Department of Education Resources for Recovery from Traumatic Events:


Mental Health Resources:

Rocky Mountain Crisis Partners (formerly Metro Crisis Services):

Colorado Mental Health First Aid:



1 Cohen, Mannarino, and Deblinger, Treating Trauma and Traumatic Grief in Children and Adolescents, The Guilford Press, 2006, p.3,

2 National Child Traumatic Stress Network: Understanding Traumatic Street in Adolescents: A Primer for Substance Abuse Professionals, June 2008, p. 1

3 National Child Traumatic Stress Network: Understanding Traumatic Street in Adolescents: A Primer for Substance Abuse Professionals, June 2008, p. 4

Disclaimer: Safe2Tell Colorado does not accept requests for links or resource inclusions. Safe2Tell Colorado and the Colorado Department of Law provide resource and publication links to external websites because of their usefulness in creating safer schools and communities as an educational, informational basis to Safe2Tell users, schools, law enforcement and the general public. All attempts to keep information linked on this site are made on a regular basis. However, Safe2Tell Colorado and the Colorado Department of Law cannot be responsible for the content of any site external to its own. Further, by providing links to external sites, Safe2Tell Colorado and the Colorado Department of Law is not endorsing any particular product, practice, service, provider or institution, nor does it necessarily endorse views expressed or facts presented on these sites. In addition, neither Safe2Tell Colorado/Colorado Department of Law nor any of its employees, makes any warranty, expressed or implied, or assumes any legal liability for the accuracy, completeness, or usefulness of any information linked to from this site.