How to Use Computer Science to Reinforce Trauma-Informed Practices (T.I.P.S.)

Female teacher standing next to a female students desk and approvingly looks over her school work.

Did you know that computer science and coding education can reinforce T.I.P.S. (Trauma Informed Practices) in the classroom? Things like creating websites, solving puzzles, and problem-solving through challenges can teach students self-regulation, collaboration, and empower students to share their voice. 

About 70% of adults say they have experienced trauma in their lives. Untreated childhood trauma can lead to anxiety, depression, addiction, and other health issues. By introducing T.I.P.S. through computer science (CS) education, students will be better equipped to deal with the trauma they have faced.   

The 6 Guiding Principles of T.I.P.S. 

T.I.P.S can be broken down into 6 guiding principles: 

  1. Safety 
  2. Trustworthiness & Transparency
  3. Peer Support 
  4. Collaboration & Mutuality 
  5. Empowerment Voice & Choice
  6. Cultural, History, Gender Issues

CS can be a great tool for students who have experienced trauma, as it reinforces these 6 guiding principles.

Here’s a deeper look at each of the principles and how CS can help reinforce them.

  1. Safety 

It goes without saying that safety is the most essential principle in T.I.P.S. For students, it’s important to ensure that they feel physically, emotionally, and psychologically safe amongst their peers, leaders, and environment. 

Whether it’s safety in the playground, walking down the hallway, or interaction on the internet, safety is something that every classroom should put first. 

Part of your students’ computer science education can include topics such as digital safety. Digital safety includes training on the importance of click restraint, how to be a responsible participant of online activities, how to avoid and look out for hackers and scammers, and more. By educating students in this way, you are helping create a safer space for them on the internet. 

Another computer science concept that can help your students learn how to create a safe environment is algorithms. Algorithms are step-by-step instructions that result in a desired outcome or function. Teaching students who have experienced trauma about clear routines and expectations can help them decrease anxiety.

  1. Trustworthiness and Transparency

In many cases, students who have faced trauma are hesitant to reach out for help because they lack a sense of trust. When schools instill a sense of trust through transparency in the classroom, it allows students to feel trust with their peers and leaders.  

Coding is a great way to help students and teachers learn how to trust each other in a learning environment. Coding is a collaborative experience, especially for beginners. As a coder, it’s common to run into bugs and errors, and a lot of the time it takes collaboration and teamwork to be able to work out those errors. 

This type of collaboration found in CS classrooms opens the door for building relationships of trust and transparency. Trust that the student’s peer will work with them to solve the errors, and transparency that the peer can share their knowledge and skill in a helpful way. 

In addition to these types of plugged coding activities, teachers can also lead their classroom in unplugged activities that promote trust and transparency. These unplugged activities include solving a puzzle as a class or group, and other group activities that include a challenge and team effort to solve. 

  1. Peer Support 

Experiencing trauma can be isolating. Using T.I.P.S., professionals try to utilize caregivers who have experienced similar trauma to create a safe space for them to share their experiences. This is called peer support.

Learning code in the classroom can be a great way for students to practice supporting each other with similar challenges they are facing in their code journey. Teachers can create a healthy dynamic of peer support by pairing students together to solve a problem. 

Some students pick up coding more quickly than others. By pairing these more experienced students in coding with students who are having a difficult time grasping a concept, you can create a healthy peer support dynamic in the classroom that can be translated in and out of the classroom. 

  1. Collaboration and Mutuality

This guiding principle of T.I.P.S. helps people who have experienced trauma feel like they are a part of their treatment plan. For example, instead of being told how to fix the problem they are facing, the person who has been affected by the trauma works alongside professionals and peers to determine the best course to healing. 

 For students who have experienced trauma, they can start to learn the importance of collaboration and mutuality through the use of group coding projects.
In group coding projects, students can collaborate and lean on each other to accomplish a goal. Providing students an opportunity to practice this type of peer support in the classroom, opens the door for them to be able to lean on each other through difficult out-of-classroom experiences as well.

  1.  Empowerment Voice & Choice

Trauma is personal. This important T.I.P.S. principle allows people who have experienced trauma to voice their thoughts, experiences, and decisions in a safe environment. 

Computer science lends itself to provide many opportunities for students to express themselves, share their beliefs, and promote choice. When creating a website, students can choose any topic that interests them. 

Students can create their own website about a historical figure, a website that describes their favorite pet, a website about holidays around the world, and so many more topics. Teachers can assign projects on any topic and students can work collaboratively to design a group website.

Through computer science, students can practice expressing themselves creatively and effectively, and learn the importance of expressing themselves authentically. 

  1. Cultural, History, Gender Issues

In T.I.P.S. it's important to recognize that each survivor is an individual and their background matters. One size does not fit all. It’s vital for people healing from trauma to feel seen as it relates to their cultural, historical, and gender background.

Coding is for everyone. Seriously, anyone can code. It’s not for just your uncle who lives in the basement. It’s for teachers, educators, parents, and students from any and all backgrounds. We know this because everyone consumes technology. And as consumers of technology, we can see the importance of having all races, genders, and perspectives being the creators of the content we rely on on a day-to-day basis. 

Coding in the classroom is also for everyone. By using an inclusive and accessible computer science solution, students can feel supported in their diversity and learn to love coding, and incorporate their background into what they create. 

Any student would benefit from computer science education. When we consider those students who have experienced trauma, we can see how computer science would support them because it reinforces the 6 Guiding Principles to a Trauma-Informed Approach.

If you want to learn more about how Skill Struck can help your district adopt a computer science pathway that supports all types of learners, request a demo at

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