Traumatized Child:

The Effects of Stress, Trauma & Violence on Student Learning


Instructor Name:          Dr. Pamela Bernards, Ed.D.

Facilitator  Name:         Joan S. Halverstadt, MS/ED

Phone:                          509-891-7219

Office Hours:                8 a.m. to 5 p.m. PST Monday - Friday


Address:                       Virtual Education Software

                                    16201 E Indiana Ave, Suite 1450

                                    Spokane, WA 99216

Technical Support:



Welcome to Traumatized Child: The Effects of Stress, Trauma & Violence on Student Learning, an interactive computer-based instruction course, designed to help you identify and effectively teach students affected by stress, trauma and/or violence.  This course teaches you to recognize the signs of stress, trauma or violence in students.  It also discusses the specific factors that exist in families and communities where stress and violence are common.  A major emphasis in this course is on helping the participant understand the special learning needs of the student who is experiencing stress, trauma or violence in his/her life and how to meet his/her needs in the regular classroom.  Working with parents and community agencies is also emphasized.


This computer-based instruction course is a self-supporting program that provides instruction, structured practice, and evaluation all on your home or school computer.  Technical support information can be found in the Help section of your course.


Course Materials (Online)

Title:                            Traumatized Child:  The Effects of Stress, Trauma & Violence on Student Learning

Instructor Name:          Dr. Pamela Bernards, Ed.D.

Facilitator  Name:         Joan S. Halverstadt, MS/ED

Publisher:                     Virtual Education Software, inc. 2004, Revised 2010


Academic Integrity Statement

The structure and format of most distance-learning courses presume a high level of personal and academic integrity in completion and submission of coursework. Individuals enrolled in a distance-learning course are expected to adhere to the following standards of academic conduct.


Academic Work

Academic work submitted by the individual (such as papers, assignments, reports, tests) shall be the student’s own work or appropriately attributed, in part or in whole, to its correct source. Submission of commercially prepared (or group prepared) materials as if they are one’s own work is unacceptable.


Aiding Honesty in Others

 The individual will encourage honesty in others by refraining from providing materials or information to another person with knowledge that these materials or information will be used improperly.


Violations of these academic standards will result in the assignment of a failing grade and subsequent loss of credit for the course.




Level of Application

This course is designed to be an informational course with application to educational settings. The intervention strategies are designed to be used for the remediation of students experiencing stress, trauma, or exposure to violence, ranging in age from approximately three to eighteen years. Some alterations may be needed if working with specific populations such as gifted, ESL or special education.


Course Objectives 

1)     To understand the educator’s role in supporting and accommodating students who have special learning

       needs due to exposure to stress, trauma or violence in their lives

2)     To understand the educator’s role in protecting and supporting vulnerable students

3)     To recognize the symptoms of stress, trauma and violence

4)     To understand how stress, trauma or violence affects brain development and learning

5)     To understand the causes of stress, trauma and violence in families and society

6)     To understand the special learning needs these students bring to the classroom

7)     To gain techniques for supporting students and families affected by stress, trauma or violence

8)     To learn intervention techniques applicable to the classroom setting

9)     To gain a wider knowledge of available outside resources and support systems

10)    To understand the educator’s role in the intervention and prevention of violence

11)    To explore violence prevention resources and curricula       


Course Description

This course is designed to help classroom teachers, school counselors and other educational personnel gain strategies to reach and teach students who have been affected by stress, trauma and/or violence.  Participants will learn the signs and symptoms of stress and trauma.  Participants will explore how stress, violence and trauma affect a student’s learning, cognitive brain development and social-emotional development. The short- and long-term consequences of being exposed to stress, trauma or violence, as well as the social and family causes, will be reviewed. Participants will learn the dynamics of domestic violence and community violence.  The educator’s role in the intervention and prevention of violence will be discussed.   


The course is divided into four chapters.  Each chapter discusses a particular topic of stress, trauma or violence.  There will be numerous “checkpoint” questions inserted throughout the reading, which are designed to help students review the content and apply it to their own educational setting.  The chapters are sequential and should be completed in the order in which they are presented.  At the completion of each chapter, there will be an examination covering the material. Students must complete the examination before proceeding to the next chapter.  In some of the chapter examinations, questions will involve case studies to provide further practice in the application of knowledge. This sequential approach to learning will help all participants gain a better understanding of what they have learned as they proceed through the course.  This course is appropriate for educators seeking training in working with toddlers through adolescents, as well as those who work directly with families.


Although this course is not a comprehensive presentation of the educational issues surrounding stress, trauma and violence, it certainly includes a wealth of research covering many topics which are not covered in the scope of this course.  The instructor highly recommends that you augment your readings from this course with further research to gain a fuller understanding of the complexities of this subject.  However, the material presented in this course will give you a broader understanding of the topics of stress, violence and trauma.  It will also give you information to apply directly to your work with students in the classroom and community.


Student Expectations  

As a student you will be expected to:

·        Complete all information chapters covering Traumatized Child, showing a competent understanding of the material presented.

·        Complete all chapter examinations, showing a competent understanding of the material presented.

·        Complete a review of any chapter on which your examination score was below 70%.

·        Retake any examination, after completing an information review, to increase that examination score to a minimum of 70% (maximum of three attempts). *Please note: Minimum exam score requirements may vary by college or university; therefore, you should refer to your course addendum to determine what your minimum exam score requirements are.

·        Complete a course evaluation form at the end of the course.


Chapter Topics

Chapter 1 - The Effects of Stress on Student Learning
This chapter will discuss the effects of stress on student learning.  The causes of stress and how children react to stress will be presented.  School stress and coping skills for dealing with stress will also be discussed.


Chapter 2 - The Effects of Trauma on Student Learning 

This chapter will discuss the effects of trauma on student learning.  The way in which childhood trauma affects the brain development of young children will be a special focus.  Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome in children will be discussed, as will strategies educators can use in the classroom to accommodate students who have special learning needs due to exposure to trauma.

Chapter 3 - The Effects of Family Violence on Student Learning

The focus of this chapter will be the dynamics of family violence, especially domestic violence, in terms of its causes and repercussions.  The ways in which children react to family violence and how exposure to family violence influences a child’s overall development are discussed. 


Chapter 4 – The School’s Response to Violence in the Community

This chapter discusses bullying and the physical and emotional violence that can occur in the school setting, as well as in the media.  In addition, a discussion of strategies for how educators can include violence prevention curricula in their program and plans for dealing with school violence is included. 



At the end of each chapter, you will be expected to complete an examination designed to assess your knowledge. You may take these exams a total of three times. Your last score will save, not the highest score.  After your third attempt, each examination will lock and not allow further access.  Your final grade for the course will be determined by calculating an average score of all exams.  This score will be printed on your final certificate.  As this is a self-paced computerized instruction program, you may review course information as often as necessary. You will not be able to exit any examinations until you have answered all questions. If you try to exit the exam before you complete all questions, your information will be lost. You are expected to complete the entire exam in one sitting.


Facilitator Description

Joan Halverstadt is a Special Services Director and School Psychologist in a school district.  She has fifteen years’ experience as a school counselor, working with at-risk preschool and elementary aged students.  Ms. Halverstadt has forty years of experience working in early childhood education with children and families, including working with children affected by family issues, abuse, or trauma.  She also teaches graduate education counseling and special education courses for teachers and counselors. She received her National Certification and School Psychology Educational Specialist degree from Seattle University, her School Counseling Educational Staff Associate Degree from City University, her Master’s in Education Degree from George Mason University, and her BA in Psychology and Elementary Education from Whitman College. Please contact Professor Halverstadt if you have course content or examination questions.


Instructor Description

Pamela Bernards has 30 years of combined experience in diverse PK-8 and high school settings as a teacher and an administrator.  In addition to these responsibilities, she was the founding director of a K-8 after school care program and founder of a pre-school program for infants to 4-year-olds.  When she was a principal, her school was named a U.S. Department of Education Blue Ribbon School of Excellence.  More recently, the school in which she serves as curriculum coordinator was named a 2010 Blue Ribbon School.  Areas of interest include curriculum, research-based teaching practices, staff development, assessment, data-driven instruction, and instructional intervention (remediation and gifted/talented).  She received a doctorate in Leadership and Professional Practice from Trevecca Nazarene University.

Please contact Professor Halverstadt if you have course content or examination questions.


Contacting the Facilitator

You may contact the facilitator by emailing Professor Halverstadt at or calling her 509-891-7219, Monday through Friday, 8:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m. PST. Phone messages will be answered within 24 hours. Phone conferences will be limited to ten minutes per student, per day, given that this is a self-paced instructional program. Please do not contact the instructor about technical problems, course glitches or other issues that involve the operation of the course.


Technical Questions

If you have questions or problems related to the operation of this course, please try everything twice. If the problem persists please check our support pages for FAQs and known issues at and also the Help section of your course.


If you need personal assistance then email or call (509) 891-7219.  When contacting technical support, please know your course version number (it is located at the bottom left side of the Welcome Screen) and your operating system, and be seated in front of the computer at the time of your call. 


Minimum Computer Requirements

Please refer to VESi’s website: or contact VESi if you have further questions about the compatibility of your operating system.


Refer to the addendum regarding Grading Criteria, Course Completion Information, Items to be Submitted and how to submit your completed information. The addendum will also note any additional course assignments that you may be required to complete that are not listed in this syllabus.



American Bar Association Commission on Domestic Violence.  Multidisciplinary response to domestic violence.


Barnett, Ola W., Miller-Perrin, Cindy L., & Perrin, Robin. (2005). Family violence across the lifespan: An introduction.  Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.


Buz, Eric, & Guzman, Maria. Bullying and victimization: What adults can do to help (leader guide).  HEF582  NebGuide. University of Nebraska Cooperative Extension Service.


Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC); Dept. of Health and Human Services.  School health policies and programs study: SHPPS 2006.


Child Welfare Information Gateway, Children’s Bureau, IFC International. Strengthening families and communities-2009.  National Resource Center for Community Based Child Abuse Prevention.


Children’s Defense Fund.  The state of America’s children: 2008 highlights.


Family Violence Prevention Fund.


Focus Adolescent Series. Teaching children not to be-or be victims of-bullies.


Focus Adolescent Series.  What parents and teachers should know about bullying.


Juhnke, Gerald. (2009). National Parent Information Network-Virtual Library. Assessing potentially violent students.  ERIC Clearinghouse on Counseling and Students.


Katz, Lillian G.  (1989). Coping with stress. (Courtesy of Parent’s Magazine).


Kearney, Margaret. (1999). The role of teachers in helping children of domestic violence.  Childhood Education, 75(5), 290-296.


Ledingham, Jane.  The effects of media violence on children.


Lindsay, Duncan. (2004). The welfare of children.  Oxford: Oxford University Press.


Lingren, Herbert. “Bullying”-How to stop it.  Cooperative Extension, Institute of Agriculture and Natural Resources, University of Nebraska-Lincoln.

Lingren, Herbert.  Children and stress. Cooperative Extension, Institute of Agriculture and Natural Resources, University of Nebraska-Lincoln.

Maslow’s hierarchy of meeds. Connect Net.


National Clearinghouse on Child Abuse and Neglect Information/Child Welfare Information Gateway. Understanding the effects of maltreatment on early brain development.


National Coalition Against Domestic Violence. Domestic violence facts-2009.


National Institute on Media and the Family. Children and media violence.


National Mental Health Association.   Fact sheet: Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.


National Parent Information Network, Virtual Library. Does bullying do harm?


Perry, Bruce D.  (1997). Incubated in terror: Neurodevelopmental factors in the cycle of violence.  In J. Osofsky (Ed.), Children, youth, and violence: The search for solutions (pp. 124-148). New York: Guilford Press.


Perry, Bruce D. (2009a). Principles of working with traumatized children: Special considerations for parents, caregivers, and teachers.


Perry, Bruce D. (2009b, Dec.).  The neurodevelopmental impact of violence in childhood. In D. Schetky & E. Benedek (Eds.), Textbook of child and adolescent forensic psychiatry (pp. 221-238). Washington, DC: American Psychiatric Press.


Perry, Bruce D. (2009c, Dec.). Understanding traumatized and maltreated children.


Perry, Bruce D. (2009d, Dec.). Violence and childhood: How persisting fear can alter the developing child’s brain.


School Health Policies and Program Studies (SHPPS). (2006). School Health Policies and Programs. Study fact sheet: Violence prevention.


Jaffe-Gill, Ellen, Smith, Melinda, Larson, Heather, & Segal, Jeanne. (2007). Understanding stress: Signs, symptoms, causes, and effects.


U.S. Department of Agriculture, Safety, Health, and Employee Welfare Division.

Domestic violence awareness handbook.


Washington State Dept. of Social and Health Services-Children’s Administration.  Legal issues in domestic violence. DSHS 22-163.


Course content is updated every three years. Due to this update timeline, some URL links may no longer be active or may have changed. Please type the title of the organization into the command line of any Internet browser search window and you will be able to find whether the URL link is still active or any new link to the corresponding organization's web home page.


Updated 8/27/14 JN