Understanding Child Trauma
Child trauma occurs more than you think.
More than two thirds of children reported at least 1 traumatic event by age 16. Potentially traumatic events include:
- Psychological, physical, or sexual abuse
- Community or school violence
- Witnessing or experiencing domestic violence
- National disasters or terrorism
- Commercial sexual exploitation
- Sudden or violent loss of a loved one
- Refugee or war experiences
- Military family-related stressors (e.g., deployment, parental loss or injury)
- Physical or sexual assault
- Serious accidents or life-threatening illness
The national average of child abuse and neglect victims in 2013 was 679,000, or 9.1 victims per 1,000 children.
Each year, the number of youth requiring hospital treatment for physical assault-related injuries would fill every seat in 9 stadiums.
1 in 4 high school students was in at least 1 physical fight.
1 in 5 high school students was bullied at school; 1 in 6 experienced cyberbullying.
19% of injured and 12% of physically ill youth have post-traumatic stress disorder.
More than half of U.S. families have been affected by some type of disaster (54%).
It’s important to recognize the signs of traumatic stress and its short- and long-term impact.
The signs of traumatic stress may be different in each child. Young children may react differently than older children.
- Fear being separated from their parent/caregiver
- Cry or scream a lot
- Eat poorly or lose weight
- Have nightmares
Elementary School Children
- Become anxious or fearful
- Feel guilt or shame
- Have a hard time concentrating
- Have difficulty sleeping
Middle and High School Children
- Feel depressed or alone
- Develop eating disorders or self-harming behaviors
- Begin abusing alcohol or drugs
- Become involved in risky sexual behavior
Healthy Steps Kids Can Take to Respond to the Alarm
- Recognize what activates the alarm and how their body reacts
- Decide whether there is real trouble and seek help from a trusted adult
- Practice deep breathing and other relaxation methods
There is hope. Children can and do recover from traumatic events, and you can play an important role in their recovery.