Child traumatic stress occurs when children and adolescents are exposed to traumatic events or situations (school or neighborhood violence; domestic violence; physical abuse; sexual abuse; neglect; serious accidents; sudden or violent death of a loved one, natural disasters, terrorists attacks and war).
When exposed to these events, a child is overwhelmed and may not be able to cope with what they have experienced. It is important to acknowledge that a child’s experience of danger and fear of such events is different than that of an adult.
Traumatic experiences are known to cause a range of physical and behavioral health symptoms, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and Post Traumatic Stress Symptoms (PTSS). These symptoms include:
- Nightmares and trouble sleeping
- Avoidance of thoughts, feelings, reminders of the trauma
- Bed wetting
- Attention problems
- Anger, irritability, temper tantrums and aggressive behavior
- Flashbacks and intrusive thoughts of the traumatic event
- Withdrawal, dissociation (spacing out), and numbness
- Sadness; loss of trust in others
- Increased risk taking behaviors, poor school performance