“They Don’t Care About You”: Exploring Socioemotional Barriers in School Settings for Black, Trauma-Exposed Boys


  • Shantel Crosby University of Louisville, USA
  • Kristian Jones University of Washington, USA
  • Angelique Day University of Washington, USA
  • Cheryl Somers Wayne State University, USA




Education, Qualitative Methods, Race/Ethnicity, African American, Urban Context, Trauma


The study explores how a sample of trauma-exposed, Black boys experience their school environment and socioemotionally navigate barriers in their school setting. A content analysis was completed on focus group data collected from ten Black boys at a high school in an urban setting. Content was reviewed under the constructivist-interpretivist epistemology, using an empowerment theoretical framework. Findings included the following themes: (1) Teachers Change Your Moods—conflictual relationships with teachers negatively impacted their mood; (2) They’ll Switch Up on You in a Half Second—interactions with classmates (e.g., social posturing or physical touch) could also be a barrier to their success; (3) When I’m Having a Bad Moment—descriptions of how they cope with challenging experiences in school; and (4) Tell Me Why This is Useful—instructional and relational suggestions for school staff to improve their learning environment. Implications for school policy and practice are discussed.


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Author Biographies

Shantel Crosby, University of Louisville, USA

SHANTEL CROSBY, PhD, LCSW is an Associate Professor in the School of Social Work & Family Science at the University of Louisville. Her major research interests include trauma among racial/ethnic minority youth, trauma-informed practice, and education equity.  Email: shantel.crosby@louisville.edu.

Kristian Jones, University of Washington, USA

KRISTIAN JONES, PhD, is an Assistant Professor at the University of Washington in the School of Social Work. His major research interests include youth mentoring, early intervention and prevention among marginalized youth and families, and youth development among Black youth. Email: kjones21@uw.edu. 

Angelique Day, University of Washington, USA

ANGELIQUE DAY, PhD, MSW is an Associate Professor in the School of Social Work at the University of Washington in Seattle. Her major research interests include trauma informed teaching of system involved youth, college access and retention of foster youth, Indian Child Welfare, youth aging out of foster care, and kinship care.  Email: dayangel@uw.edu.

Cheryl Somers, Wayne State University, USA

CHERYL SOMERS, PhD, is a Professor in the College of Education, Department of Educational Psychology, at Wayne State University in Detroit.  She focuses on academic and social-emotional development, trauma exposure, and interventions to mitigate social and educational inequities among vulnerable and marginalized youth.  Email: c.somers@wayne.edu.


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