Childhood trauma impacts the physical and mental health of individuals throughout a lifetime. Millions of children are traumatized each year, yet few resources are dedicated to the problem. In fact, children's mental health in general and childhood trauma, specifically, are terribly underfunded by both research and direct service systems. The lack of resources makes treating children who have suffered trauma extremely difficult. The problem of resources is most acute in rural or smaller urban communities.
Fortunately, new technologies, more public awareness, and some policy and practice changes are making it easier to help these children. In the last 20 years, the concept of childhood PTSD and the importance of early childhood experiences in shaping the child have been slowly entering public and professional awareness. This process is just beginning. You can help play a role by sharing what you learn with your colleagues and coworkers. There are resources out there -- often difficult to find and access, but out there nonetheless. Start by looking on the Web.
Remember the exercise we did back in Lesson 1, the one where we all took out our trusty Yellow Pages and searched for local resources in the field of childhood trauma? I suspect that, even with great creativity and diligence, you were not able to find too many pertinent listings through Ma Bell!
Fortunately for all of us, the Internet has radically changed the face of researching and networking for every conceivable issue, including childhood trauma. If you are taking this class, I know that you are fortunate enough to have access to a computer. Your Internet search engine and a few well-chosen key words can easily launch you into a world of information and support in the field of childhood trauma.
An excellent jumping-off site for you to get started on your search is www.ChildTrauma.org.
The ChildTrauma Academy provides direct services for maltreated and traumatized children, conducts research, and develops programmatic innovations within the public and private systems that are mandated to protect, heal, and educate children. The ChildTrauma Web site is updated regularly, so you will want to check it often as new links and articles are posted.
Another incredible resource is David Baldwin's Trauma Information Pages at http://www.trauma-pages.com. This site is without question the best trauma-related resource that exists on the Web. Dr. Baldwin has done a remarkable job of collecting, sorting, and commenting on this information. Check out this site early in your search and you won't be disappointed.
David Baldwin's Trauma Pages focus primarily on emotional trauma and traumatic stress, including PTSD, whether the causation is individual traumatic experience(s) or a large-scale disaster. New information is added to this site about once a month. The purpose of this award-winning site is to provide information for clinicians and researchers in the traumatic-stress field, but with careful reading anyone can benefit from the information posted.
Baldwin's interests include both clinical and research aspects of trauma responses and their resolution. For example, he tackles such topics as:
- What goes on biologically in the brain during traumatic experience and its resolution?
- Which psychotherapeutic procedures are most effective for which patients with traumatic symptoms and why?
- How can we best measure clinical efficacy and treatment outcome for trauma survivor populations?
Supportive resources supplement the more academic and research information of interest to clinicians, researchers, and students.
Don't let yourself be limited to these two Web sites. Using various search engines, you can look up key words, such as "trauma," "memory," "abuse," "brain," and "children" (and others!), to lead you to all sorts of information and resources on the proverbial information superhighway.
Books and Articles On Child Trauma
Although the Internet is a terrific resource, let's not discount the value of the good, old-fashioned book! I've already recommended a number of books as reading relevant to this course (which you may recall from your course overview), but you are certainly not limited to these few.
Many books have been published on childhood trauma, ranging from the highly academic and/or clinical to self-help for caregivers or adult survivors of childhood trauma. And, within the major groupings, there are sub-genres, i.e., sexual abuse, war, and family violence. To get a better overview of what's in publication, I suggest that you check out Barnes & Noble's Web site at http://www.bn.com, where you'll find a comprehensive selection of trauma-related books publications. For instance, a search with the keyword trauma netted a list of 617 books! Obviously, not all 617 books will contain the information that you are attempting to find, or even be of interest to you. I am just trying to drive the point home that there is much related material in print!
Remember, we've only talked books so far. Periodicals are also full of pertinent information. Consider the following articles as a starting point:
Perry, B. D. and Azad, I. Post-traumatic stress disorders in children and adolescents. Current Opinions in Pediatrics 11: 4, 121-132, 1999
Perry, B. D. and Pollard, R. Homeostasis, stress, trauma, and adaptation: A neurodevelopmental view of childhood trauma. Child and Adolescent Psychiatric Clinics of North America 7, 33-51.1998.
Pfefferbaum, B. Posttraumatic stress disorder in children: A review of the past 10 years. J.Am.Acad.Child Adolesc.Psychiatry 36, 1503-1511. 1997.
Terr, L. Childhood traumas: An outline and overview. Am J Psychiatry, 1991. 148: 10-20.
Although there is much in publication written for doctors and clinicians, you will also find articles written for the layperson or the caregiver. Your local university or library will have scores of periodicals with approachable, germane articles for you to research and read. Don't be shy about asking your local librarian for help. Most librarians these days are extremely computer literate. If you're not clear on how to conduct your search, your librarian is a valuable ally!