Examine the graph and its explanation below. Write out a cultural criticism of the information at hand. Why do you think that there is so much research and education funneled toward soldiers affected by combat-induced PTSD, but no such effort on behalf of traumatized children, though the latter represent a greater number? Consider such factors as voting blocs, economic power, and social values. What do you think it would take to establish the same level of concern and action for the vast number of traumatized American children on a national level? Can you think of any recent events that could be used to push for such action?
The Wars of Childhood
During the ten years of the Vietnam war, over 3 million young men and women served in Vietnam. Of these 3.14 million
young adults (left column above), over 1 million (blue in left column above)
developed Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) at some point over the next 20 years. In response, we
have established the National Centers for PTSD: thousands of specialized
clinical services, research programs and educational initiatives focused
on combat-related PTSD. Billions of dollars have been dedicated to treating and
understanding combat-related trauma.
In contrast, each year in the United States, five million children are
exposed to abuse, violence, and other traumatic events. Unlike the
Vietnam veterans, most of these children don't rotate out of the
war zone after a year. Millions of these children live year after year in the
violent and terrorizing world of domestic or community violence and physical and sexual
abuse. They are chronically exposed to pervasive trauma at ages when
they are most vulnerable. During the ten years following the Vietnam era, more
than 50 million children were exposed to traumatic events (right column
above). If only 30 percent (a conservative estimate) of these children
developed PTSD (blue in right column), 30 million children developed severe
and chronic neuropsychiatric problems during this ten-year period. Despite
the pervasive and devastating nature of childhood trauma, our society has
dedicated few focused resources for research, clinical or educational
programs for traumatized or maltreated children.