Critical Race Theory And Trauma Informed Care In Schools


The education system is one of the most important institutions in society, playing a vital role in shaping the future of our communities. It is therefore essential that the learning environment is inclusive and supportive for all students, including those from diverse backgrounds.

One such approach that has gained attention in recent years is Critical Race Theory (CRT) and Trauma-Informed Care (TIC), which provides a way of understanding the experiences of students of colour and those who have experienced trauma. This article will explore how these two frameworks can be used in schools to create an environment that supports and engages all students.

What is Critical Race Theory?

Critical Race Theory is a framework that examines how racism is embedded in society and its institutions, including the education system. Its proponents argue that racism is not just the result of individual prejudice, but a systemic issue that is present in all aspects of society.

CRT examines the ways in which race and racism intersect with other forms of oppression, such as class, gender, and sexuality. It aims to understand the experiences of people of colour, who face unique challenges and barriers in a society that is dominated by white culture.

What is Trauma Informed Care?

Trauma-Informed Care is a framework that recognizes the impact of trauma on individuals and their communities. It understands that people who have experienced trauma, such as violence, abuse, or neglect, may struggle with mental health issues, behavioural problems, and academic difficulties.

TIC aims to create an environment that is safe, supportive, and empathetic. It recognizes the importance of building relationships based on trust and respect, and of providing educational opportunities that are tailored to the needs of each student.

The intersection of CRT and TIC in schools

The intersection of Critical Race Theory and Trauma-Informed Care in schools provides a powerful framework for understanding the experiences and needs of all students, especially those who are marginalized or have experienced trauma.

CRT helps educators understand the impact of racism and other forms of oppression on the lives of students of colour, while TIC recognizes the impact of trauma and the need to create a supportive learning environment.

To fully implement CRT and TIC in schools, educators must be committed to recognizing the unique experiences of their students and meeting their needs in an empathetic and holistic way.

Creating inclusive and supportive schools

Inclusive and supportive schools are essential for the success of all students, regardless of their background or experiences. Schools can create such environments by implementing the following strategies:

Implement anti-bias and anti-racist curriculum:

Schools must provide education that affirms and acknowledges the diversity of their students. This includes teaching about the history and experiences of people of colour, as well as addressing issues of racism and bias in the curriculum.

Provide opportunities for student voice and agency:

Students should be given opportunities to have their voices heard and to participate in decision-making processes. This can include creating student councils, providing opportunities for feedback and suggestions, and using inclusive pedagogies.

Create a safe and supportive learning environment:

Schools must prioritize the safety and well-being of their students. This can involve creating a welcoming atmosphere, providing access to mental health services, and ensuring that students feel supported and heard by teachers and administrators.

Provide trauma-informed support:

Schools must recognize the impact of trauma on their students and provide appropriate support. This can include access to counselling services, trauma-sensitive teaching practices, and providing a safe and supportive environment for students who have experienced trauma.

The benefits of CRT and TIC in schools

Implementing CRT and TIC in schools has numerous benefits, including:


By acknowledging the impact of racism and trauma, schools can create an environment that is inclusive and supportive. This leads to higher levels of engagement and academic success for all students.


By providing opportunities for student voice and agency, schools empower their students to take control of their education and become active members of their communities. This fosters a sense of empowerment that is essential for success in all aspects of life.

Better mental health:

By providing trauma-informed support, schools can support the mental health of their students, promoting resilience and well-being. This leads to better academic outcomes and reduces the risk of behavioural problems and mental health issues.

Higher academic achievement:

By creating an inclusive and supportive environment, schools can improve academic outcomes for all students. This leads to higher levels of achievement, increased graduation rates, and better opportunities for future success.


Critical Race Theory and Trauma-Informed Care provide powerful frameworks for understanding and addressing the unique needs of students of colour and those who have experienced trauma. To create an inclusive and supportive learning environment, schools must be committed to implementing these frameworks and creating a safe and supportive environment for all students. By doing so, schools can improve academic outcomes, support mental health, and empower their students to become active and engaged members of their communities.


FAQs about Critical Race Theory and Trauma Informed Care in Schools

1. What is Critical Race Theory?

Critical Race Theory (CRT) is a framework that explores and critiques the ways in which race operates within society, particularly in regards to systemic inequalities and power structures. It emphasizes the importance of recognizing the experiences and perspectives of marginalized groups, and acknowledging the ways in which race intersects with other forms of oppression, such as gender and class.

2. What is Trauma-Informed Care?

Trauma-Informed Care (TIC) is an approach to healthcare and education that emphasizes the importance of understanding and addressing the impacts of trauma on individuals, particularly those who have experienced significant adversity or stress. It promotes a compassionate and supportive approach to care that recognizes trauma as a shared experience, and focuses on building resilience and supporting healing.

3. How do CRT and TIC intersect in schools?

CRT and TIC intersect in schools by emphasizing the importance of recognizing and addressing the ways in which systemic inequalities and trauma impact students’ experiences and learning outcomes. By integrating a trauma-informed approach with a critical analysis of race and systemic oppression, schools can create more inclusive and supportive environments that promote equity and well-being for all students, particularly those from marginalized communities. This can include implementing policies and practices that prioritize culturally-responsive teaching, trauma-sensitive pedagogy, and equitable disciplinary practices.


1. Derrickson, J. L., Shade, C., & Teraoka, S. (2021). Critical Race Theory in Educational Research: A Review of Methodological Practices. Educational Researcher, 50(1), 47-56.
2. Wilson, D. B., & Keith, J. G. (2019). Trauma-informed care in schools: A practice guide. National Child Traumatic Stress Network.
3. Royster, D. A., & Murray-García, J. (2021). Transforming Trauma-Informed Care: Intersectionality, Critical Race Theory, and the Social Determinants of Health Equity. The Permanente journal, 25.