Trauma is perceived as a physical or psychological threat or assault to a person’s physical integrity, sense of self, safety and/or survival or to the physical safety of a significant other; family member, friend, partner. (Kilpatrick, Saunders, and Smith, 2003). An adolescent may experience trauma from a variety of experiences, including but not limited to: abuse (sexual, physical, and/or emotional); neglect; abandonment; bullying; exposure to domestic violence and/ or community violence; natural disasters; medical procedures; loss/grief due to a death of a family member(s); surgery; accidents or serious illness; and war (Kilpatrick, Saunders, and Smith, 2003).
Sixty percent of adults report experiencing abuse or other difficult family circumstances during childhood. (Mental Health Connection, N.D.). This shocking statistic exemplifies the high prevalence of childhood trauma. Furthermore, twenty-six percent of children in the United States will witness or experience a traumatic event before the age of four. (Mental Health Connection, N.D.) Trauma is an extremely common and complex phenomenon. But what is trauma? According to Merriam Webster, trauma is defined as, “a disordered psychic or behavioral state resulting from severe mental or emotional stress or physical injury.” (Merriam Webster, 2017). Dr. Lenore C. Terr from the Child and Adolescent Psychiatric Clinics of America further describes trauma as unique to each individual. It can be caused by a series of events or one severe incident. Unfortunately, childhood trauma is usually experienced repeatedly. For example, many children endure sexual abuse, bullying, and severe family problems over and over again. Children may experience a variety of traumas that have lasting consequences on their mental health. Those who experience childhood trauma are more likely to develop psychological disorders. This occurs because their brains lack neuroplasticity, which inhibits their ability to adapt to various stressful circumstances.
In the immediate, as well as long-term aftermath of exposure to trauma, children are at risk of developing significant emotional and behavior difficulties (CWIG, 2012). The most damaging types of trauma include early physical and sexual abuse, neglect, emotional/psychological abuse, exposure to domestic violence and other forms of child maltreatment (Hoch, 2009). Research has shown that children that are exposed to these types of trauma will experience developmental delays including language and verbal processing. Also, they will have risk of poor physiological and psychosocial functioning, and will be vulnerable to emotional and behavioral dysregulation disorders, thus, leading to an increase risk of poor outcomes including substance abuse, suicidality, teen pregnancy and paternity, criminal activity, and revictimization (Hoch, 2009).
“American Psychiatric Association defines trauma as an event that represents a threat to life or personal integrity. Trauma can also be experienced when children are faced with a caregiver who acts erratically, emotional and /or physical neglect, and exploitation” (Maltby, L., & Hall, T. 2012. p. 304). Trauma comes in many different forms including: war, rape, kidnapping, abuse, sudden injury, and
It is estimated by the U.S. Department of Health and Human services that one million children are victims of child abuse and neglect in the U.S every year. This number may be an underrepresentation however, as many cases are unreported. Children who experience trauma in early childhood years or adolescence have impacts that follow them throughout adulthood. The common effects include relationship attachment issues, mental disorders, substance abuse, increased
There are significant signs of psychological trauma due to any kind of abuse. Children experience feelings of low self esteem and depression. Many exhibit behavioral problems including aggression towards other children. Other emotional problems include hostility, fear, humiliation and the inability to express feelings. The social impacts of physical abuse include inability to form relationships, poor social skills, poor cognitive language skills, distrust of others, over-compliance with authority figures, and tendency to solve interpersonal problems with aggression. (2008, p. 1). Verbal and physical abuse has a cumulative impact on children’s socialization. Abused children are caught in damaged relationships and are not socialized in positive, supportive way (Craig & Dunn, Ex.: 2010, p. 196). They learn defiance, manipulation and other problem behaviors that are used to escape any maltreatment. In turn they will learn to exploit, degrade and terrorize.
Common events that can trigger PTSD in minors include neglect, physical abuse, sexual abuse, and psychological abuse (National Center for PTSD, 2015). Sometimes, adults tend to underestimate the severity of a child’s reaction after the event has taken place because some children disguise their feelings (Dyregrov & Yule, 2006, p. 177). If a parent is also suffering, it may affect their ability to emotionally support their child (Dyregrov & Yule, 2006, p. 177). The severity of the trauma, how the parents react to the trauma, and the child’s proximity to the trauma are three factors that increase the probability that a child will get PTSD (Dyregrov & Yule, 2006, p. 176). It is common for school-aged children suffering from this condition to show signs of disturbance in their playtime (National Center for PTSD, 2015). Severe PTSD symptoms in young children (less than six years old) may include wetting the bed after learning how to use the toilet, forgetting how to or losing the ability to talk, and being unusually clingy with a parent or another adult (NIMH, 2016). The signs of PTSD in teenagers are more similar to the signs that are seen in adults (National Center for PTSD, 2015). However, teenagers tend to show more impulsive, aggressive, and vengeful behavior (National Center for PTSD, 2015). Other factors that are related to later posttraumatic problems include prior psychiatric issues, prior exposure to trauma, the female gender, and family issues (Dyregrov & Yule, 2006, p.
Children who witness domestic violence in their home often experience a multitude of mental and emotional difficulties. Many studies have shown childhood violence is associated with depression, incarceration and committing domestic violence themselves Buckley et al. (2007) and Katz, Settler & Gurtovenko (2016). Scholars also found that children who are both witnesses and victims both have increased levels of aggression and behavior problems Sternberg, Lamb, Guterman & Abbott (2006). Not only are children prone to aggression and behavior problems, witnessing domestic violence makes children susceptible to post traumatic stress disorder. Meltzer et al. (2009) found children who have witnessed domestic violence to be fearful and show more anxiety and depression than other children who did not experience domestic violence.
Trauma is very complex and varied in its nature. Traumatic events include child abuse, neglect and maltreatment. Wamser‐Nanney & Vandenberg (2013) found that one of the more harmful types of trauma is the abuse is committed intentionally. This directly impacts the victim 's safety and sense of trust. The devastating effects of this type of trauma is the way in which it impacts not only the survivors, but also future generations, and the ability they have to form attachments (Connolly, 2011).
Childhood trauma is one of the most heartbreaking situations to ever fathom happening. Childhood trauma includes neglect, maltreatment, physical and emotional abuse, and many other forms of mistreatment amongst children. Childhood trauma occurs between the ages of 0 and 6 years of age. When referencing to childhood trauma, one must take thought into who commits the abuse, who is affected by the abuse, and what long term effects can the abuse have on the victims. One must also take into consideration the sex differences when referring to childhood trauma. Numerous of studies have been conducted and many findings have been made. Prior to conducting this research paper, I only considered childhood trauma to be what it was and never considered the long term effects. Because of my assumption, I never even considered the other categories of the trauma.
There are many types of trauma that can effect an adolescent and without the proper treatment of the traumatic event the adolescent can have difficulty adapting and developing into adulthood. Kathleen J. Moroz, of the Vermont Agency of Human Services, defines trauma as a physical or psychological threat or assault to a child’s physical integrity, sense of self, safety of survival or to the physical safety of another person significant to the child. She goes on to list the types of trauma a child may be exposed to. Abuse of every kind, domestic violence, natural disasters, abandonment, serious illness or an accident are just a few traumatic events that can effect the development of a child. (2) When these events occur as an acute event
While the theoretical reasoning that supports the idea that child abuse often leads to crime gives a basis for the concept, much of the evidence that links the two lies in the concrete details. The visible effects of child abuse and neglect that assist with the basis that has been given by the psychological theories lies in observable behavioral and emotional effects of those who are known to have been subject to maltreatment as children. Some children who have a history with abuse do not experience any repercussions while others experience extreme consequences; this is largely because of the certain child’s ability to handle and grow from negative experiences (Child Welfare Information Gateway 3). Children who experience consequences
Throughout the course of one’s lifetime, there are countless events that shape the personality, actions and mentality of that individual. Some of these events will affect the individual in a positive way allowing great life opportunities, while other events will unfortunately affect the individual in a negative way which can lead to disorders. Among the various events that can affect a person, one of the most common occurrences that some children witness early on in their lives that deeply affect their long-term mental health is being a witness to domestic violence. Research and observations that were studied revealed that there are multiple factors that can contribute to a child witnessing domestic violence. The more categories that the
Throughout the course of history, millions of children have been victims of physical abuse; it has been shown that the effects of this abuse can profoundly influence ones mental and physical health in the span of his or hers life.