According to the National Institute of Mental Health, each year, children experience violence, disaster, and other traumas. Young people are injured, see others harmed by violence, suffer sexual abuse, lose loved ones, and/or witness other tragic and shocking events. Parents and caregivers can help children overcome these experiences and start the process of recovery.
“Trauma” is often thought of as physical injuries. Psychological trauma is an emotionally painful, shocking, stressful, and sometimes life-threatening experience. It may or may not involve physical injuries and can result from witnessing distressing events. Examples include a natural disaster, physical or sexual abuse, and terrorism. Disasters such as hurricanes, earthquakes, and floods can claim lives, destroy homes or whole communities, and cause serious physical and psychological injuries. Trauma can also be caused by acts of violence, such as the September 11, 2001 terrorist attack, mass shootings in schools or communities, and physical or sexual assault. Traumatic events threaten our sense of safety. Reactions (responses) to trauma can be immediate or delayed.