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
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
Houston, Texas 77056
Checks should be made payable to "The ChildTrauma
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
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
Bruce D. Perry, MD, Ph.D.