The indelible impact of trauma on adolescents: Adults have a responsibility

The diagnosis of PTSD came about in the early 1980’s that only affected a minority of soldiers who had witnessed and been devastated by combat experiences.  Soon enough following, these same exact symptoms began to be described by those involved in natural disasters, rape survivors or those who had witnessed life-threatened accidents.  We know from the events of September 11th and Hurricane Katrina that these can leave permanent marks on the mind, and even much more-so on children than it on adults.  It is rare that a child escapes trauma entirely without some residual effects.

Did you know that 40 percent of American children will have at least one traumatizing experience by the age of eighteen? Examples could include the death of a sibling or parent, abuse or neglect, sexual abuse, domestic violence, a natural disaster or a serious accident.  At any given time, more than 8 million suffer from diagnosable trauma-related psychiatric problems.  This is quite the prevalent problem.

Adults responses to children during and after traumatic events make a lasting difference to children later on in their lives. It is crucial to whether the adults in these children’s lives stand by them with love, understanding, and encouragement.   Though I personally do not believe that those who have been the victims of abuse have an excuse to inflict violent or hurtful behavior on others, you can’t deny that there  are some complex interactions going on in childhood that affect our ability to envision choices and therefore may later limit our ability to make the best decisions.

In order to understand trauma, we have to understand memory.  If you’re interested in how children heal, you also must be aware of how they learn to love, cope with difficulties, and how stress might have an impact on them.  If we as a human race can recognize the destructive impact that violence can have on an indvidual’s ability to connect with others and be a productive employee, for example, we put ourselves in a better light for understanding ourselves and to nurture the people in our lives, especially children.

Speak Your Mind


Ryan Long, MSW, LICSW


verified by Psychology Today

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