|Lesson 4: Finding Resources and Getting Involved
Where Are the Resources?
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. You may recall from our course overview that The ChildTrauma Academy is a partnership between Baylor College of Medicine and Texas Children's Hospital. 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!
Child Welfare Agencies and Organizations
Here is a selection of organizations that will be able to offer you information and referrals. They are all easily accessible on the Web and many have toll-free telephone numbers. Don't forget, many of these agencies and organizations need volunteers. If you are able to give your time and energy to this important cause, some of these groups will be able to steer you toward volunteerism in your own locale.
Prevent Child Abuse
Prevent Child Abuse (formerly the National Committee to Prevent Child Abuse) is nationally recognized as one of the most innovative leaders in child abuse prevention. It has a nationwide network of chapters and their local affiliates in hundreds of communities. Through their media campaigns, people are finding ways they can help prevent abuse. PCA seeks to equip professionals with the latest, proven prevention approaches through training and technical assistance. To find out more about your local affiliate and the national program activities contact:
Prevent Child Abuse
200 S. Michigan Avenue, 17th Floor
Chicago, Illinois 60604-2404
Tel: (312) 663-3520
Fax: (312) 939-8962
Child Welfare League of America
CWLA is an association of more than 1,000 public and private nonprofit agencies that assist over 2.5 million abused and neglected children and their families each year with a wide range of services. They have many resources for families and professionals working with traumatized children. For more information contact:
Child Welfare League of America
440 First Street NW, Third Floor
Washington, DC 20001-2085
Tel. (202) 638-2952
FAX (202) 638-4004
American Professional Society on the Abuse of Children (APSAC)
APSAC's mission is to ensure that everyone affected by child maltreatment receives the best possible professional response. This organization has many useful scholarly and clinical materials aimed primarily at the professional audience. Caregivers working with abused or maltreated children may find this a useful resource, nonetheless. For more information contact:
407 South Dearborn Street Suite 1300
Chicago, IL 60605
The National Center for PTSD
The National Center for PTSD is a program of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs and carries out a broad range of activities in research, training, and public information. The primary focus of the Center has been combat veterans and their families. Over the last few years, however, this focus has been expanded. There are many useful programs, activities, and resources for anyone interested in the effects of traumatic stressors.
The PILOTS database is an electronic index to the worldwide literature on PTSD and other mental-health consequences of exposure to traumatic events. It is available to Internet users courtesy of Dartmouth College, whose computer facilities serve as host to the database. No account or password is required, and there is no charge for using the PILOTS database.
The National Center for PTSD
International Society for Traumatic Stress Study
The International Society for Traumatic Stress Studies (ISTSS), founded in 1985, provides a forum for the sharing of research, clinical strategies, public policy concerns, and theoretical formulations on trauma in the United States and around the world. ISTSS is dedicated to the discovery and dissemination of knowledge and to the stimulation of policy, program, and service initiatives that seek to reduce traumatic stressors and their immediate and long-term consequences.
International Society for Traumatic Stress Studies
60 Revere Drive, Suite 500
Northbrook, Illinois 60062 USA
Phone: 847/480-9028; Fax: 847/480-9282
National Clearinghouse for Child Abuse and Neglect (NCCAN)
The National Clearinghouse on Child Abuse and Neglect Information is a national resource for professionals seeking information on the prevention, identification, and treatment of child abuse, child neglect, and related child welfare issues.
National Clearinghouse on Child Abuse and Neglect Information
330 C Street, SW
Washington, DC 20447
Phone: (800) 394-3366 or (703) 385-7565
Fax: (703) 385-3206
What You Can Do
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
The Feigin Center Suite 715
Houston, TX 77030
Checks should be made payable to Baylor College of Medicine and marked "for the exclusive use of Dr. Bruce Perry for the ChildTrauma Academy." Tax ID number is 74-1613878.
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, MD, Ph.D.