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Childhood trauma can have long term physical, psychological and behavioural consequences. A child will likely experience trauma if they have been subject to physical, emotional or sexual abuse, domestic abuse in the household or substance misuse. Trauma leads to changes in the brain which means if a child experiences trauma, they can become hypervigilant causing stress-based behaviours. When a child’s behaviour escalates, punishment is often the outcome. Punishments such as restraint, seclusion and suspension further traumatise the child, leading to a further increase in distress-based behaviours, causing a cycle, known as the trauma cycle.
It’s important that steps are taken to help a child overcome traumatic experiences so they can thrive. A trauma informed response is crucial and the first stages should be to ask ‘what has happened to you’ instead of trying to punish trauma out of young people.
Mental Health charities such as YoungMinds have called on the Government to break the cycle of trauma in order to tackle children’s mental health crisis. The charity’s report (Addressing Adversity) argues that young people displaying ‘difficult’ behaviour due to trauma are too often misunderstood by the services that should support them. Their report showed that one in three lifetime mental health problems are directly linked to adverse childhood experiences. Further, young people who have experienced four or more adverse childhood experiences are four times more likely to have low levels of mental wellbeing and life satisfaction.
YoungMinds is calling for the government to make childhood adversity and trauma a public health priority and for local health commissioners to introduce trauma-informed models of case, so that effective support can be provided to young people without further traumatising them or making them feel in danger.
If you require legal advice in relation to your children our experienced Child Care team can assist you through this process. Please call 01924 431774 for a confidential telephone call or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
June 1, 2021
Joanne is a Partner and Heads the Care department.