Rethinking Trauma: What Children and Youth with Histories of Trauma & Domestic Violence Have to Teach Us

Presented by Tracey Michelle Pyscher, Ph.D. and Shannon McCune Dickerson, M.Ed.


As a society, we do not openly discuss domestic violence and yet its reality is front and center for children and youth whose lives are deeply shaped by it. The school landscape is bleak for many children and youth with histories of domestic violence/trauma. They are one of the largest populations of youth being pushed into the school-to-prison pipeline. In this workshop, we consider what is just and unjust when working with/for children and youth with histories of domestic violence/trauma in the context of community organizations and institutions and what possibilities emerge when educators remain awake to the counternarratives that these youth have to share related to navigating schools. Participants will come away from the session with two considerations:

  1. An alternative way of thinking about trauma and domestic violence from both a sociocultural and social justice perspective rather than a behavioral and/or medicalized perspective.
  2. What this kind of rethinking trauma means for children and youth with histories of domestic violence and their families as they traverse institutions like schools and community based organizations.

As a way of applying this new learning in rethinking trauma and domestic violence and the social and cultural dimensions of a child’s life experience, participants will engage in a reflective cycle of inquiry so to support participants in goal setting, observation, assessment, action planning, and reflection related to the content of the session. Participants will engage in this cycle through interactive adult-learning strategies, sharing their perspectives, imagining effective culturally responsive practices, and sharing big ideas.


About the Presenters:

Tracey Michelle Pyscher, Ph.D. is an Assistant Professor of Secondary Education in the Woodring College of Education at Western Washington University. Her research interests include understanding and naming the social and cultural experiences of children and youth with histories of domestic violence (HDV youth) and their navigation of school and critical literacy and learning.

Shannon McCune Dickerson, M.Ed., Animals as Natural Therapy, Program Coordinator, has worked with children and teens for over 15 years mentoring, teaching, leading wilderness trips, facilitating groups, and foster parenting. She has also worked as a parenting educator and as a family counselor meeting with high-risk families in their homes.


Primary Audience: adults – educators, human rights or social justice professionals

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