CHILDHOOD TRAUMA:

DEFINING, PREVENTING, AND MITIGATING ADVERSE CONSEQUENCES

What You’ll Learn:

  • The role intergenerational, historical, and racial trauma can have on an individual
  • How toxic stress causes long-lasting negative impacts on a child’s health
  • Strategies that are proven to lessen the economic impact of childhood trauma
  • Actionable and widely-applicable policy recommendations

Key Takeaway:

Certain traumatic experiences, like natural disasters, are not preventable. However, many traumatic experiences can be avoided or lessened if the right investments are made. By surrounding children and families with the systems that protect their well-being, the state and its community partners strengthen the ability of children and families to avoid and rebound from adversity.

With this report, Voices for Georgia’s Children, has provided the community with a comprehensive, yet concise, overview of childhood trauma and its impact on the child, family, and community. Further, the report incorporates the latest research regarding the prevention and mitigation of childhood trauma. Of particular note, are the practical and attainable policy opportunities that are identified.

Brian E. Bride, Ph.D., M.S.W., M.P.H.Distinguished University Professor, School of Social Work, Georgia State University

One of the most promising things about child policy today is that both lawmakers and policymakers are hungry to learn about how traumatic experiences affect child and adolescent behavior, educational outcomes and health. Our new report satisfies that hunger and does so in a way that is easy to consume, understand and remember. It is an engaging collection of the latest research and analysis that culminates in actionable and widely-applicable policy recommendations. I find this publication to be a great touchstone for all the work I do and I hope you will find it to be as well.

Erica Fener Sitkoff, Ph.D.Executive Director of Voices for Georgia’s Children

The discourse on Trauma-informed Care is a much-needed one. As a social work educator and practitioner, I recognize the need to prepare future social workers to engage, identify, intervene and support individuals, groups, and communities. Through culturally responsive interventions that promote children's strengths, resilience, and empowerment to move forward in their life course development and journey.

Dr. Darrin E. WrightClark Atlanta University School of Social Work
When Voices for Georgia’s Children published its first report on the subject in 2013, childhood trauma was a lesser known topic among elected officials, policymakers, government officials, and state employees. Since then, increased local and national advocacy, widespread education and training, and deeper conversations about root causes of child and adult outcomes have expanded awareness of trauma and its long-term repercussions. Terms like trauma-informed, trauma-responsive, and ACEs (adverse childhood experiences), once foreign to many, have become more common in policy discussions.
In this report, Voices explores the types and sources of trauma, identifies community-level strategies that are effective in preventing or mitigating traumatic experiences, highlights state investments in developing child- and family-serving systems, and outlines actionable next steps for preventing or mitigating the adverse consequences of experiencing traumatic events.
Read the Executive Summary Here
Read the Full Report Here

What is Trauma?

 

Trauma is defined by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (a branch of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services) as a condition resulting from an event, series of events, or set of circumstances that is experienced by an individual as physically or emotionally harmful or life-threatening and that has lasting adverse effects on the individual’s functioning and mental, physical, social, emotional, or spiritual well-being.

Sources of trauma include:

Adverse childhood experiences resulting from potentially traumatic events that are segmented into three overarching categories – abuse (physical, emotional, sexual), neglect (physical and emotional), and household dysfunction (mental illness, incarcerated relative, domestic violence, parental substance abuse, divorce)

Intergenerational, resulting from psychological trauma that is transmitted within families and communities because of disrupted attachment, biological mechanisms, or historical traumatic events

Historical, resulting from the experience of violence or sudden disruption because of genocide, war, oppression, discrimination, racism, natural disaster, or other traumatic events

Racial (or race-based stress), resulting from experiencing or witnessing events of racism or racial discrimination

Sanctuary, resulting from an individual being separated from a traumatic experience and then experiencing another traumatic event in what was supposed to be a supportive and protective environment, challenging an individual’s idea of safety

Read the Full Report Here

Categories of Trauma

Childhood trauma can be broadly categorized into three different types, based on the frequency, duration and variation of events: acute, chronic, and complex. These classifications can assist child-serving providers in identifying the right level and combination of services and supports to promote a child’s recovery.

Read the Full Report Here

Policy Opportunities

Preventing and addressing childhood trauma requires a multipronged approach that strengthens protective factors for children and families and invests in a child- and family-serving support system. Over the past decade, various stakeholders in Georgia – policymakers, philanthropists, providers, and others – have invested in the state’s child- and family-serving systems, supporting child well-being and preventing or mitigating childhood trauma.

Building on these investments, and aligning with the protective factors for child well-being outlined in the report, we recommend a collection of state and local policies to improve upon the state’s systems to prevent, respond to, and mitigate childhood trauma.

Read Policy Recommendations for Preventing and Mitigating Consequences of Trauma

Additional Resources

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