Traumatic events in childhood increase risk for a host of social (e.g., teenage pregnancy, adolescent drug abuse, school failure, victimization, anti-social behavior), neuropsychiatric (e.g., post-traumatic stress disorder, dissociative disorders, conduct disorders) and other medical problems (e.g., heart disease, asthma). The deterioration of public education, urban violence and the alarming social disintegration seen in some of our urban and rural communities can be traced back to the escalating cycles of abuse and neglect of our children.
For most children, thankfully, severe trauma is a new experience. And like all new experiences, the unknown will add to the confusing and frightening circumstances surrounding the traumatic event. The trauma may significantly challenge the child's sense of the world. A flood, tornado, car accident, shooting or abuse by a caregiver—all challenge the child's beliefs about the stability and safety of their world. Very young children may not understand what happened and will be confused or even frightened by the reactions of their siblings or caregivers.