The Cost of Caring:
 Secondary Traumatic Stress and the Impact of Working with High-Risk Children and Families

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Lesson 4: Finding Resources and Getting Involved

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Finding Resources and Getting Involved

Our society has been ineffective in preventing, identifying, and responding to the maltreatment of children. The impotence of our social systems to help children does not mean that you, as an individual, are powerless. Your actions can have dramatic impact on children in your community and, by supporting the efforts of effective organizations, your actions can impact thousands of children in this generation and in generations to follow.

There are many ways that you can choose to fight the maltreatment and trauma of children. Whatever method you choose, know that however small your effort seems, your participation is critical. In the end, unless we all participate in some fashion, we will always fall short of our true potential as individuals and as a society. Choose to help in a way that works for you. You may want to work directly with maltreated children, or you may choose to contribute in any variety of important ways. Please remember, you don't need to work directly with the child to be able to make a dramatic difference in their life.

Give Your Time

In your community, there are children that need the gift of attention, respect, instruction, comfort, and hope. So many children from abusive settings have lost hope. Even brief interactions with respectful, honest, and nurturing adults can be helpful to the abused or traumatized child, allowing them to know that adults can be kind.

There are many ways to find children who need your time. Volunteer to be a foster parent, to rock the crack-addicted infant in the hospital, to teach a child to read, to be an aide in the local public school, to answer phones at a battered women's shelter. In all of these settings, you can enrich the life of a child. You can give a child hope.

Give Your Skills

You may not realize how your skills can benefit maltreated children. Desperately underfunded child protection, child welfare, and child mental health systems can always benefit from the innovative use of your skills. A residential treatment center may need help with accounting or computer programming. A local children's shelter may not have a library.

A dancer can teach some foster children how to dance. A computer programmer can teach these children computer skills. A writer can write editorials/articles/books about these issues or help an agency create a newsletter. Your skills, whatever they are, can be used to fight abuse.

Give Your Money

In the United States, we spend more money on studying and treating abusers than we do on their child victims. Research, clinical services, and specialized professional training in child abuse are dramatically underfunded. You can help support these critical activities by financially supporting effective and innovative programs such as the ChildTrauma Academy.

Please direct donations to:

The ChildTrauma Academy
5161 San Felipe, Suite 320
Houston, Texas 77056
Attn.: J. Rubenstein

Checks should be made payable to "The ChildTrauma Academy."

As you give time, skills, or money to help these broken children, you may find that your life will be enriched and that hope has a new meaning for you. You can make a difference in the life of a child with your time, and in the lives of many children with your financial support. Choose to act.

Give Your Voice

Play a role in helping change the policies and practices that have allowed our society to ignore children. Remember, children don't vote. And far too many traumatized children have no effective adult advocacy. We allocate research and service-delivery dollars in the United States in a way that reflects political power. Maltreated children have no political power in this country, nor any other country.

Whenever you can, talk to the media. Talk with your local, state, and federal representatives to inform them and urge them to think about the future of our children. Write letters or send e-mails to make them aware of your concern. They all say that children are our future. Make them walk the walk and not just talk the talk.

A Final Word From Your Instructor

I have really enjoyed the opportunity to teach all of you about childhood trauma. This course is just the start. As you know, this is a subject that is very near and dear to my heart and I have spent much of my professional life endeavoring both to care for and facilitate public awareness of maltreated and traumatized children. I urge all of you to continue learning. Read, question your colleagues, network in your community, and find ways to help these children.

It is my sincerest hope that you will be able to harness both the scientific facts and research skills that you have learned here and take them out in the world with you. With your new knowledge you will undoubtedly make the world a better place for these children who so desperately need our love and understanding. Whether you are caring for an individual child or volunteering your time locally, the work you are doing is vitally important to our greater community.

I wish you the best of luck in your endeavors and thank you for your time and commitment to issues of childhood trauma.

Bruce D. Perry, M.D., Ph.D.


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