Helping children recover from trauma can be one of the most important substance abuse | addiction prevention measures we take. Why?
Childhood trauma, whether it’s that caused by verbal, physical or emotional abuse; neglect; domestic violence; alcoholism or drug addiction in the home; bullying or similar traumatic experiences, can change how a child’s brain develops. It can change a child’s brain chemistry and the way a child’s neural networks form, which in turn influences how that child experiences the world and interprets those experiences. Childhood trauma is one of the five key risk factors for developing addiction.
If we can help a child early – before s/he is diagnosed with a mental illness and put on medications or suspended for behavioral problems at school or falls behind academically because they can’t concentrate, or any of the other common outcomes of ineffectively helping a child recover from trauma – we can change that child’s life.
To that end, I wanted to use this post to share information and resources on a few of the groups and agencies working to help children recover from trauma.
ACEs (Adverse Childhood Experiences) Too High
ACESTooHigh is the go-to site for background, news and information about:
- the Adverse Childhood Experiences Study,
- developmental neurobiology — how severe stress and trauma affect a child’s developing brain and nervous system
- epigenetics — how our genes turn off and on in response to our experiences and social environment.
ACESTooHigh is also a site that covers what towns, cities, states, social service agencies and organizations, schools, the juvenile justice, criminal justice, public health and medical communities are doing to reduce the burden of ACEs for the tens of millions of people in the United States who have high ACE scores. Links to those projects and programs are posted on the ACEs in Action page. There’s also the accompanying social network community of practice called ACEsConnection, for people who work in these communities to share best and worst practices, information about upcoming events, and to set up groups who want to collaborate on projects. That network also has a rich Resource Center that you enter from the home page.
Trauma-Sensitive Schools is an initiative started by The Trauma and Learning Policy Initiative’s (TLPI). Their mission is to ensure that children traumatized by exposure to family violence and other adverse childhood experiences succeed in school. Through their Trauma-Sensitive Schools’ initiative, people can find help and resources for:
The National Child Traumatic Stress Network (NCTSN)
The National Child Traumatic Stress Network was established to improve access to care, treatment, and services for traumatized children and adolescents exposed to traumatic events. On their website, people can find:
- information on various kinds of childhood trauma (neglect, domestic violence, physical abuse, school violence & crises…)
- resources arranged by Audiences, Topics, and Online Research.
These are but three groups and agencies working to help children recover from trauma. You can get more specific or go broader by searching “helping children recover from trauma” or “helping a child recover from trauma.” You can also find examples of what’s worked in other locations and how it’s being addressed around the world.
The most important thing we can to do is to do something – anything. Pass this information along to someone who can help a child and/or get actively involved, yourself, through action or donations in/to one of these initiatives or the scores of others working to help children recover from traumatic experiences.