We are sometimes told that children are “resilient” and that they “do not understand” much. We are often made to believe that children are not significantly impacted by what we might do or say. We might even convince ourselves that since we turned out just fine, our children will, too. However, all of this information is misleading, and masks a much bigger problem that is occurring within the country and amongst our youth.
According to a study conducted by the National Survey of Children’s Health, 48% of children within the United States have experienced at least one type of childhood trauma prior to age 18. Additionally, one-third of children in the country who are between ages 12 and 17 have suffered two or more traumatic events. For many children and adolescents, their trauma can stem from a number of experiences, including the following:
- Divorce / separation
- Socioeconomic hardship
- Having one or more parents in jail
- Witnessing domestic violence
- Living with a mentally ill individual
- Living with someone who abuses drugs and/or alcohol
- Death of a parent
- Racial tension
- Neglect / abandonment
- Sexual abuse
- Physical abuse
- Emotional abuse
- Serious illness
Children who suffer from trauma can experience changes within their brain development due to the stress the trauma has caused them, leading to a series of potential issues, including poor academic development and hindered social functioning.
An Eye on Childhood Trauma in Memphis, Tennessee
While childhood trauma is an ever-growing concern throughout the United States, the community in Memphis, Tennessee is deeply impacted by it. According to numerous studies of the area, young students who have experienced multiple traumatic events are six times more likely to struggle with behavioral problems, five times more likely to skip school, and two-and-a-half times more likely to stay back a grade than those children and adolescents who do not suffer from trauma. Parents and teachers within the community report that more preschoolers than students in kindergarten through 12th grade are being expelled based on their inability to control the angry behaviors tied to their trauma. Studies show that children who experience childhood trauma are not only more likely to suffer behavioral and emotional problems, but physical health problems as well. Some of the many health issues that can impact children as they move into adulthood can include heart disease, cancer, high blood pressure, and adolescent pregnancy. In addition, chances of developing anxiety and depression skyrocket, as do the risks for developing eating disorders and attempting suicide.
Within Memphis, violence, racial tension, and drug abuse are continually on the rise, adding to rates of childhood trauma within this area. This is not a “pop-up” problem, as childhood trauma has been a cyclical problem throughout Memphis for decades, meaning that parents of young children today have suffered their own childhood trauma. For many of these parents, they have adopted the idea that they will raise their children in the same manner in which they were raised, even if that includes exposure to events that could be traumatic for their children. However, not all parents are willing to remain trapped within this dangerous pattern of behavior, as they are ready to break the cycle of childhood trauma once and for all.
Throughout the community, drop-in centers have been established, where art therapy, music therapy, individual counseling, and universal parenting services can be offered to parents and their children for free to help address everyone’s trauma. Starting at the top with the parents, these centers work to help adults understand the trauma that has happened to them, guiding them towards effectively sorting out their issues surrounding their personal trauma. For many, this helps prevent childhood trauma from occurring to another group of children. These centers are also helping treat children for their trauma through the same methods of care, again working to put a stop to the continual pattern of trauma within the community.
Breaking the Stigma and Moving Forward
For many people in the area, seeking treatment for trauma is taboo. As with many families throughout the country, addressing psychological and emotional issues can be viewed as unnecessary within the Memphis community. Admitting to struggling with trauma can be viewed as being “weak.” However, as time moves on and the community starts to band together, this stigma is slowly being erased.
In addition to the many efforts that the community in Memphis has put forth to help families, there are also other treatments available for children who are struggling with trauma. These treatments can include individual counseling, EMDR (eye movement desensitization and reprocessing), emotional regulation strategies, and more.
At Crestwyn Behavioral Health, we are prepared to help those children and adolescents between the ages of 12 and 17 who are grappling with the emotional, psychological, and behavioral issues that have developed in response to the childhood trauma they have endured. Located right in Memphis, we are able to offer our services to both the youth and the adult population in the area who are striving to overcome the challenges that come along with having experienced trauma. Allow us to help you by reaching out to us right now.