Such events inevitably impinge on the lives of the most vulnerable in society - our children. According to UNICEF (United Nations Children’s Fund) (2001) armed conflicts and human rights violations have displaced an estimated 20 million children worldwide in the last ten to fifteen years. Millions of others are displaced through poverty. 13 million children have been orphaned by the HIV/AIDS pandemic. An increasing number of children affected by these catastrophes are arriving in the UK, possibly as asylum seekers, and being placed in our schools. Terrorist actions recognise no national boundaries and are indiscriminate with regards to the age of persons caught up in the atrocities and can result in actual or even vicarious trauma in children. In recent years lone gunmen have invaded the sanctuary of the school environment and brought slaughter and terror to what was usually perceived to be a safe haven. E.g. Dunblane Primary School (13th March 1996) and Columbine High School (April 20th 1999). All this is in addition to the trauma caused by natural disaster, e.g. earthquakes and floods and such events as the Indian Ocean Tsunami (26th December 2004), and family conflicts that children have encountered in the past and continue to encounter.
Traumas, which can affect an individual child, may include parental separation or divorce, witnessing parental violence, the death of a relative or friend, serious illness of a relative or friend and accidents such as fire in the home. Bullying may traumatise a child and a commonly recognised source of trauma is physical or sexual abuse. Consequently there is an increased probability that schools, and therefore teachers, will be faced with the task of coping with individual children or groups of children who have experienced trauma.
Children with special needs have been identified in the education system. Formerly they were separated from mainstream education, but are