Types Of Trauma Endured By Children
The following article will cover:
- Common types of traumas experienced by children: Physical abuse, neglect (including physical and emotional neglect), and sexual abuse.
- Warning signs of trauma in children: Emotional dysregulation, withdrawal, hyperactivity or attention deficit disorders, and disturbed play behavior.
- Services available for children who have experienced trauma.
What Are Some Of The Common Types Of Traumas Experienced By Children In The Cases You Are Involved In?
Regrettably, the most frequent traumas experienced by children in these cases are physical abuse and neglect. Additionally, neglect can present in multiple forms:
- Physical neglect: This includes inadequate provision of essentials like food, appropriate shelter, and clothing.
- Emotional neglect: This occurs when children are deprived of opportunities to form safe and healthy attachments with their caregivers. This often happens if caregivers struggle with untreated addiction or mental health issues, which prevent them from adequately engaging with their children.
This lack of proper engagement deprives children of adult role models who can expose them to healthy situations and guide them in processing challenging situations in an appropriate manner. Physical abuse, particularly extreme violence, can have severe impacts on a child’s development. Additionally, cases of sexual abuse, although distressing to acknowledge, can also significantly affect a child’s development.
What Are Some Of The Warning Signs That A Child May Have Experienced Trauma?
Look out for children who appear emotionally dysregulated. This could manifest as an inability to control emotions or responses that seem out of character—either being overly emotional or showing a lack of emotion in reaction to significant events. If a child demonstrates emotional dysregulation, consider the possibility of early traumas that might have influenced their emotional responses.
Other potential signs of trauma include:
- Withdrawal: Children may become reclusive.
- Hyperactivity or attention deficit disorders: These might indicate a lack of foundational executive functioning and processing skills due to early trauma.
- Disturbed play behavior: Violence, withdrawal, or isolation in their play with other children could signal unaddressed or unprocessed traumatic experiences.
Any of these warning signs should prompt you to seek professional help for the child. This ensures they can effectively process their experiences, preventing any long-term impact on their development. The good news is that children are resilient, and with appropriate intervention and guidance, they can process many traumatic situations without long-term impacts. If you notice these signs in your children during pending family law litigation, it may be necessary to involve an Amicus Attorney on behalf of your child.
An Amicus Attorney will investigate and report to the court what is in your child’s best interest. Texas law requires that all amicus attorneys be specifically trained in dealing with children and trauma.
What Types Of Services, Including CPS, Are Available For Children Who Have Experienced Trauma?
Child Protective Services (CPS) offers a broad range of services to families. However, it may not be the first resource you think of when seeking help, and that’s fine. Understandably, many families are reluctant to involve CPS in their daily lives. Fortunately, a wide array of resources are available outside of the CPS system. These services are also available for families with ongoing litigation or custody disputes and may be recommended by an Amicus Attorney like Christina Wade Perrone to assist your family. Other avenues include:
- Play therapy: Young children often benefit from play therapy. Here, counselors help children process their experiences through play, using tools like dolls, sand trays, or putty.
- Traditional talk therapy: This is suitable for older children who can articulate their feelings and learn coping skills through conversation.
There are also more innovative therapeutic approaches that you might want to consider:
- Trust-Based Relational Intervention (TBRI): This specific type of therapy helps children affected by trauma reconnect and form appropriate attachments.
- Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR): This therapy uses eye movement to help retrain the brain, enabling children to discuss their traumas and learn new emotional responses, reducing the impact of the trauma.
Remember, these services revolve around the idea of therapeutic intervention. The aim is to work with families and children to foster growth, healing, and a clear path forward. When a child is in therapy, it’s also beneficial for the caregiver to participate in therapy. As the child learns new ways to respond and behave, caregivers can also develop new ways to manage situations and provide optimal support. This also offers the Amicus Attorney to observe new changes in the family dynamic and report progress to the Court during pending lawsuits.
How Do CPS Workers Collaborate With Other Professionals Such As Therapists, Social Workers, And Other Family Law Attorneys To Provide Trauma-Informed Care For Children?
The concept of trauma-informed care has been a significant focus in recent years. Professionals, including family law attorneys, strive to understand what this means and how to provide trauma-informed advocacy for their clients.
When collaborating with CPS, these professionals work alongside therapists, licensed chemical dependency counselors, psychiatrists, and psychologists, among others. Their collective goal is to identify necessary changes in decision-making skills, diagnose and treat any mental health issues, and if needed, address addiction problems. These collaborations also include play therapists and individual counselors working with the child or the family.
In delivering trauma-informed care, it’s crucial that all parties involved understand and apply its principles. This common understanding ensures that everyone works towards the same goal—providing the best possible support for the family, considering the trauma they’ve endured. Everyone’s role in assisting the family should be informed and guided by these principles. Specifically, an Amicus Attorney in your family law case will ensure that your child’s best interests remain at the forefront of all decisions.