In the past few months on the Lakeside Connect blog, I have focused on the impact of trauma to children and adults. Hopefully, if you have been following, you have been able to glimpse how critical this issue is to our whole society. Whether it is a child who cannot function in school, a teenager who is acting out or medicating his/her brain with drugs, or an enlisted soldier who has an “emotional concussion” (as we called it) who can only make reflexive decisions, the impact of traumatic events is far-reaching and life-altering.
Concluding thoughts: trauma-informed care
As I conclude this vital topic in today’s post, I want to offer a sense of great hope.
There are many reasons to be encouraged that trauma victims can heal and recover. New information on the brain indicates that although trauma imprints will reoccur, trauma victims can be guided not only to cope with these difficult events but also to allow them eventually to self-protect and re-establish life.
Now that we know, what do we do?
Unfortunately, healing trauma will not happen without a deeper understanding of its impact to each victim, because as each person is unique, so may be his/her impact from trauma. Being aware and informed how to approach a trauma victim requires skill and knowledge that comes from specialized training.
We have learned from the ACE study that adverse child events can effect severe physical, emotional and relational health consequences for life. We have seen the impact of trauma on children at school and home. We have learned that legacies of abuse and violence can be passed transgenerationally from parents to children, to their children. We have witnessed the devastation of trauma on our military personnel in growing numbers of veterans with PTSD.
Be a trauma-informed advocate
Throughout these posts, I have advocated strongly for what we call “Trauma Lenses” for our society. A Trauma Lens develops as those who work with a child in any capacity receive at least some basic information on the impact of trauma in children, and hopefully, become trained in trauma-informed care.
Early childhood professionals, child welfare professionals, teachers, youth workers, coaches, other volunteers and/or parents who have access to children should not have to function in these vital roles without basic understanding of the impact of trauma. Therefore, I strongly believe in making sure this research and information is available to everyone who works with children.
We desperately need to provide training to those who are working with our children, and that training should be available to everyone who touches a child. Is it not best for our children and our society that we equip these influencers with appropriate trauma training?
Appropriate training is effective and thorough. I don’t think a one-day seminar is enough to help someone understand the depth and scope of information on the impact of trauma, how to deal with it in conversation, and how to approach a child who has been traumatized. In fact, I urge that the impact of trauma should incite an ernest sense of gravity and commitment to our approach–learning that encompasses the deep knowledge that can make a difference. We need quality therapeutic training that allows those who are trained to process what they have learned and understand ways to apply it to their respective spheres of influence.
Safety, safety, safety!
All of the systems that we place children in must be safe. Schools, institutions, communities and families need to be safe places for our children. Imagine our children talking openly about their experiences in a world that is completely safe to them. What a gift that would be to us all!
Dr. Sandra Bloom has been a champion of her Sanctuary Model. Dr. Bloom is someone we deeply appreciate professionally and personally, who has been a faithful advocate for building our systems with new lenses to keep our children safe.
Finally, there are many great therapists and professionals who can provide trauma therapy to our children. The work of Dr. Bruce Perry has greatly influenced our work in trauma. He has been one of the leaders in this field. However, there are many caring and talented people who understand this issue, who can help parents and children with trauma. We need to give them a voice, to allow them to help heal a child who has experienced trauma as a part of life.
Our next dialogue
Even in industrialized America, we have much to learn about how to care for our children and families. Trauma is but one aspect. We also must think about how our children are cared for in Early Childhood Education (ECE). That will be my next topic as we continue to advocate for a safe world for our children.
I hope this series on trauma has been helpful to you. Remember, there is hope and healing for our children.
Please feel free to give us feedback on what you are learning. Let us know how we can help you as a professional or parent as you influence the children in your care. Thanks again for reading Lakeside Connect.
Gerry Vassar, President/CEO, Lakeside Educational Network