Hurt Kids, Not Bad Kids: Understanding Traumatized Youth

Children are often spoken of as a society’s greatest resource.  Unfortunately, how children are actually treated often does not align with that belief.  Children are exposed to surprisingly high rates of trauma, often inflicted by those that are supposed to love and protect them.  Further, if those around a child (e.g., family, school, community) lack awareness of the impact of trauma on children, the disservice done to these children often continues.  Specifically, the trauma reactions exhibited by these youth are often misidentified as a trait of the child rather than a reaction to an external event.  Subsequently, hurt kids become characterized as bad kids.  Initially by society, but ultimately often by themselves as well.  This presentation will introduce some key concepts helpful in understanding the impact of trauma on children, focused on the basic acknowledgment of the interaction of trauma exposure and child development, followed by more intensive discussion of the outcome of this interaction with regard to the long-term emotional, behavioral, and psychological functioning of traumatized youth.

Learning Objectives:

  • Understand the interaction between trauma exposure and child development
  • Understand the distinction between “ learning brain” and “survival brain”
  • Understand the impact of early life trauma on the emotions, behaviors, and beliefs of children
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