Taking Children’s Trauma Seriously
Each day is rife with different kinds of dangers. As the 21st century continues to be filled with horrific images of terrorism, war, calamities, and shootings, pervasive traumatic events are also happening in what is often considered a safe place for young children—the home. People are always looking for ways to live more safely. Unfortunately, terrible things can happen unexpectedly, exposing even young children to trauma that can inflict a lifetime of emotional pain.
The Sad Reality of Children’s Exposure to Trauma
According to the
Blue Knot Foundation, childhood trauma is inclusive of all forms of child abuse, such as neglect, domestic violence, and exposure to adverse circumstances, and the number of children exposed to traumatic events continues to rise in the United States.
Child Trends reports that, according to a study conducted by the National Survey of Children’s exposure to Violence (NatSCEV in 2014, more than 2/3 of children under 17 had been exposed to violence directly or indirectly in the prior 12 months. This means one out of every four children will have a traumatic experience before they become adults.
Trauma can have a devastating impact on a child’s physical, emotional, cognitive, and social development. When a child experiences an intensely threatening event, it can cause lasting physical and emotional harm. Whether he or she was a direct victim or a witness, the child is more likely to suffer from attachment issues, regressive behavior, anxiety, depression, and
nightmares, and manifest behavioral problems.
Apart from neuropsychiatric health problems, a traumatized child is at greater risk for a host of social problems (e.g., teenage pregnancy, delinquency, academic failure, antisocial behavior, and drug abuse), and physical health problems (e.g., heart disease, asthma, and lethargy). Short-term distress or behavioral change is almost universal among traumatized children.
Moreover, children who have been chronically exposed to real or perceived dangers may become acclimatized to them, and their reduced capacity to differentiate a genuine threat from a safe or neutral situation can affect their normal functioning, leading to serious anxiety disorders. More alarming is the potential for these children to become either victims or perpetrators of violence in the future.
Resilience in the Aftermath of Childhood Trauma
The majority of affected children are able to return to normal functioning after experiencing a traumatic event. This is especially true if it is a single incident. It may challenge their sense of the world, but at the end of the day, the traumatic event is a new experience that will eventually be forgotten.
The same cannot be said about those who have multiple traumas, have anxiety problems, or are chronically exposed to family adversities. The consequences can be serious and can last a lifetime. Without treatment, the trauma can leave deep emotional scars. Research shows that serious trauma can even rewire a child’s brain, leaving him or her more likely to repeat the cycle of abuse in relationships, have trouble building a career, or end up in the penal system. As they grow into adults, traumatized children are likely to develop physical,
psychological, and emotional health problems, including depression, substance abuse, and self-harming tendency.
Restoring a Traumatized Child’s Sense of Safety
In an ideal world, children would be shielded from traumatic experiences. Unfortunately, in the real world, confusing and frightening circumstances can overwhelm them psychologically and emotionally. Often, they may find it difficult to handle new experiences due to their underdeveloped faculties.
In most situations, children turn to adults around them to seek answers and comfort. There are times, however, when even the most mature and experienced adults feel helpless to provide what a traumatized child needs. Don’t be disheartened if you fail to reverse the harmful outcome of an upsetting event on your own. Professional intervention is the key to addressing childhood trauma. The earlier a child gets therapy, the better the outlook for recovery.
At Carolina Counseling Services in Fuquay-Varina, NC, a variety of effective trauma treatment options for children are available. One of the independently contracted counselors is the right-fit professional for your child. The friendly and caring atmosphere at
CCS in Fuquay-Varina, NC, helps children feel that they are in safe hands while they work with a counselor.
A traumatized child may not forget the ordeal completely, and the pain and fear may remain, but these negative feelings will no longer control all aspects of the child’s life. With help from
CCS in Fuquay-Varina, NC, your child will regain the happy and safe childhood he or she deserves. Just make a call to schedule an appointment.
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