Date of this Version



Secondary traumatic stress, classroom teachers, survey, urban schools



Over the last decade, the prevalence of childhood and adolescent trauma has continued to gain public notice, forcing educational systems to explore the impact of these traumas on students, teachers, and schools. Some have implemented trauma-informed practices that are purported to be effective for supporting students in classrooms. Researchers have explored the possibility of its adverse effect on teachers as secondary traumatic stress. This study aimed to explore Secondary Traumatic Stress (STS) in classroom teachers in one small urban school district. STS is said to capture how professionals working closely with traumatized populations are impacted by witnessing their clients' experiences. This phenomenon has adversely affected attrition in other helping professions yet is only recently the focus of educational research.


The author administered an attitudinal survey to measure levels of STS in one small, urban school district in the U.S. The population sample in this study mirrored that of the district's population and that of national demographics of teachers in the U.S. Descriptive statistics were used to run regression analysis against the STS data.


The findings showed that most teachers experience STS levels within the normal range. White, working-class elementary school teachers experienced higher levels of STS than their K-12 classroom teacher peers.


The results support a need to continue research on the impact of STS on teachers. Further investigations could inform teacher preparation programs and professional development to identify practices that can help mitigate STS in teachers.


This is the published version of the Castro Schepers, O. Exploring the demographics of teachers who experience secondary traumatic stress. BMC Psychol 11, 181 (2023).