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SAMHSA News - Volume XI, Number 1, Winter 2003

SAMHSA Responds to Children's Trauma

(Related Content)

Sample Activities: National Child Traumatic Stress Initiative

"Children exposed to trauma may have difficulty building relationships, concentrating at school, and controlling their emotions" says Robert S. Pynoos, M.D., M.P.H., Co-Director of the National Center for Child Traumatic Stress.

Unfortunately, trauma is all too common in our communities: school shootings, domestic violence, community violence, accidents, and even invasive medical procedures all can have profound psychological, social, and even biological effects upon children.

The grantees of the National Child Traumatic Stress (NCTS) Initiative address a variety of child populations, traumas, and other issues. Independently and in collaboration with one another, they seek to serve children in urban centers and rural areas, from families affected by domestic violence, from refugee groups fleeing civil wars, and in American neighborhoods riddled with ongoing violence.

The following are samples of grantee activities:

  • The Early Trauma Treatment Network, based at the University of California-San Francisco, is working to develop and disseminate a uniform assessment protocol to measure the effects of trauma on preschool children. With additional funding from the National Institute for Mental Health, grantees are developing a manual on psychotherapy for children and parents together to mitigate the effects of domestic violence on children and families.

  • Organizations that seek to serve children of refugees often have difficulty reaching these children. Fear and distrust among some members of the refugee population, or different cultural expectations of children, can hamper efforts to smooth children's transition to life in the United States, as well as their recovery from the trauma of relocation and the trauma(s) that forced such relocation. At the Center for Multicultural Human Services in Falls Church, VA, funding from the NCTS Initiative has allowed the careful documentation, assessment, and evaluation of staff efforts to contact and serve children of refugees from Sierra Leone. Through initial contact with community leaders at churches and mosques, the Center for Multicultural Human Services built trust within the local Sierra Leonian population and learned more about community values and needs. The Center intends to create a model for service to refugee children that will be applicable to communities across the country.

  • Salt Lake City serves as the center of the Child Trauma Treatment Network of the Intermountain West (CTTN-IW). In some of the most sparsely populated regions of the country, general practitioners and family doctors can be the first-and only-resource for physical and mental health care. Through professional training and support, CTTN-IW seeks to build the confidence and capacity of both health and mental health professionals to assess and treat traumatic stress in children. 

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