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Principle 4: Equity, Anti-Bias Efforts and Cultural Affirmation

Trauma-informed and responsive (TIR) organizations recognize that a variety of systemic inequities can cause and reinforce trauma. This is why it is so important to address discrimination, promote equity, and practice cultural affirmation.

Individuals may experience trauma as a result of systemic discrimination, such as racism.

Life circumstances associated with poverty and economic stress can also be traumatic, including economic and housing insecurity.

In addition to trauma experienced at an individual level, entire groups of people can experience trauma and pass the effects down through multiple generations. This is referred to as intergenerational trauma.

Cartoon of man signaling to keep out

Research indicates that overt and covert experiences of discrimination based on race, ethnicity, gender, and sexual orientation, as well as experiencing economic disadvantage, are associated with showing symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

Adults and organizations should actively resist re-traumatizing children and families by addressing discrimination, promoting equity, and practicing cultural affirmation. Ways to do this include:

Educating yourself and your colleagues by learning about interpersonal and systemic forms of oppression that contribute to traumatic stress among children, their families, and their communities. This can be done by reading or listening to books, articles, podcasts and other venues.  Use this information to best and most sensitively collaborate with community brokers in both advocacy and healing.

Acknowledging our own personal and implicit biases, privilege and power.

Being aware of how these biases and positions of power/privilege may influence interactions with children and families.

Working to undo personal and implicit biases and taking corrective action to minimize the impact they have on decisions that affect children and families.

Creating opportunities for staff members to educate themselves about issues of race, gender, class, sexual orientation, and other cultural factors, as well the impact of privilege and power through mandated and recommended training, working groups, and workshops related to anti-racism, cultural humility, and community partnerships.

Creating safe spaces for staff members to engage in open, honest dialogues about these issues, grounding discussions in established shared norms for courageous conversations.

Taking concrete actions to address systemic discrimination within organizations and systems, such as identifying and reviewing policies that may systematically impact individuals based on demographic characteristics.

Partnering and collaborating with key community members and cultural brokers in supporting the mental and physical health of children and their families

Be aware that families, particularly families of color, may have challenges in meeting their basic needs (appropriate housing, safe living environment, food stability and more) and that such needs directly impact the child’s wellbeing. Utilize community resources as needed.

Supporting policies and structures that promote eradicating racism, poverty and unequal distribution of resources among communities.

Diverse group of elementary age little boys and little girls are sitting in a circle in school library or therapist's office. Students are attending group therapy or counseling session. Mid adult African American man is counselor or therapist. He is pointing to child whose hand is raised to ask a question.
A group of kids in a tug-of-war game