Childhood trauma: a lasting effect

Trauma can be any event that, when witnessed or experienced by a child or adolescent, is extremely distressing to them.

These events are often in situations where the children feared for their lives or the lives of others. Some of these events include physical abuse, sexual abuse, exposure to violence, loss of a significant loved one, or natural disaster.

Every child reacts to trauma or adverse childhood experiences in different ways based on things such as age, severity of trauma, or the amount of time that has passed since the trauma. More immediate reactions could include difficulty sleeping or nightmares, increased fear, feelings of shame, difficulty concentrating or staying still, or even thoughts about dying.

The immediate reactions to trauma can sometimes be difficult to understand or even recognize.

However, it is the lasting effect of childhood trauma that can actually alter their young brains, resulting in developmental and behavioral problems that could last a lifetime. Without early intervention, traumatized children can grow up to be traumatized adults. This can cause abnormal reactions to stress, chronic physical ailments, relationship problems, learning difficulties, and tendencies to engage in high risk behavior like drug abuse.

“Adverse childhood experiences are the single greatest unaddressed public health threat facing our nation today”

Dr. Robert Black, former President of the American Academy of Pediatrics

When a community comes together to become educated on the signs and symptoms of childhood trauma, we can respond more quickly to end the trauma and help negate the lasting effects of adverse childhood experiences. We can begin to identify the appropriate resources to aid in helping trauma heal.

Ideally, preventing trauma from ever happening would be the best way to stop it from taking its toll.

As we work to that goal, in the meantime we will continue to educate and bring awareness to the fact that the Children’s Advocacy Project and our team of multidisciplinary agencies have the tools to address the impact of childhood trauma. Early intervention is the easiest way to combat the negative effects of trauma. We are here to provide counseling services to the children who walk through our doors, whether it be from a trauma that just happened or one that is deep seated. We bring effort to help children and their family process their experiences and begin to heal from the trauma they have experienced. Each child’s treatment is individualized to meet their specific emotional, psychological, and developmental needs.

Although we might be far from stopping childhood trauma entirely, we can continue to work toward bringing awareness to its lasting effects, continue to work toward early intervention and treatment.

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