Trauma-Informed Teaching Resumes Role in Public Health
In 2009, President Obama signed the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), which provides protections for survivors of domestic violence, sexual assault, and stalking. Since then, the administration has made significant investments into domestic violence, sexual assault, and stalking programs. However, many facets of this broken system are still in need of improvement, leaving many vulnerable survivors at greater risk of suffering post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
Thankfully, research has shown that the specific trauma experienced by children in abusive situations can be more detrimental to their long-term health and well-being than post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). In recent years, medical professionals have been adding it to their mental health lexicon with the addition of PTSD/childhood trauma.
Research studies on PTSD/childhood trauma are growing in number with each passing year. The 2017 report from the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) found that five percent of children in the United States reported some form of PTSD due to childhood abuse. That means nearly 4 million children in the U.S. suffered from PTSD in recent years.
This is a major issue due to the lingering effects of abuse on a child’s mental health and long-term health – especially in developing countries. The effects of trauma have been linked to chronic health problems, such as psychiatric conditions, gastrointestinal disorders, and cognitive and motor function impairments. The Lancet Commission 2017 found that increased rates of PTSD in children aged 4-17 years in the Philippines were contributing to elevated rates of depression and anxiety disorders and suicide rates, making them the fourth and fifth highest per capita countries in the world, respectively.
Experts note that trauma reduction initiatives, such as trauma-informed school curricula, programs focused on stress management, and a range of anti-trauma therapies and support organizations are just some of the tools we should be using to reach out to children in abusive environments. Other effective tactics include coordinating school activities with partners and families, supporting elders and parents who may need social or emotional support, and encouraging intergenerational learning and shared experiences that include life as an immigrant.
It is essential to note that simply offering support to children does not always work, since trauma can lead to distrust, behavioral problems, substance abuse, severe mental health conditions, and even violence. Effective support organizations, such as Counseling and Mental Health Services and Rethink, have excellent background information on trauma reduction strategies that will help kids and their families to recover.