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The Impact of Trauma on Children

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Children have long been considered more resilient to stress than adults. Recent studies have discovered the opposite to be true.

“Chronic childhood trauma can literally change the structure of the brain, so much so that behavior and learning ability are affected” states Theresa Coty O’Neil’s article, “Recognition grows that children’s behavior problems may be trauma related” (O’Neil, 2017).

O’Neil explains the importance of identifying trauma in children from a young age. Children are highly affected by traumatic experiences and because of this can be shaped by them, leading to behavioral problems in the future. Luckily, they are also more malleable than adults in regards to healing. The sooner trauma is recognized the more likely it is that the child will have a successful recovery.

Child trauma facilities have begun opening to assist parents, teachers and caregivers in identify children suffering from trauma. The first Michigan facility, Childhood Trauma Assessment Center at Western Michigan University (CTAC), was established in 2000 and since then has been extremely well received due to its positive effects on children and parents of children suffering from trauma. Those interested in taking their child to CTAC should be prepared for a six-month waiting list, prior to getting an appointment.

To accommodate the high demand multiple other child trauma facilities have opened throughout Michigan, such as Easter Seals and Kalamazoo Community Mental Health. CTAC helps insure the success of these locations by sending staff out to train the new facilities’ employees.

CTAC and trauma centers like it hope to bring attention to childhood trauma. The facilities’ first step is to encourage adults to ask what happened to a child suffering from trauma rather than what is wrong with them. Rephrasing the question makes the child feel safe to speak openly instead of ashamed or blamed for something that may have happened to them that they don’t understand. The second step is reinforcing the importance of listening to what the child has to say. Recovery occurs faster when the child feels heard and not judged.

To learn more about this topic please read “Recognition grows that children’s behavior problems may be trauma related.”

 

References:

O’Neil, T. C. (2017, March 23). Recognition grows that children’s behavior problems may be trauma related. Retrieved March 24, 2017, from http://www.secondwavemedia.com/features/Recognition-grows-that-children-s-behavior-problems-may-be-trauma-related-0323.aspx

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