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May 2011: Childhood Trauma and PTSD

When exposed to a traumatic event, children as young as 18 months can have serious emotional and behavioral problems later in childhood and in adulthood. More than 35 percent of children exposed to a single traumatic event will develop serious mental health problems.

With help from families, providers, and the community, young children can demonstrate resilience when dealing with trauma. Visit http://1.usa.gov/eURFX5 to learn more.

Among even very young children, ages 18 to 36 months, exposure to potentially traumatic events is associated with a range of socio-emotional and behavioral problems that may compromise healthy development and place them at risk for persistent serious psychological problems later in childhood and in adulthood.1 More than 35 percent of children exposed to a single traumatic event will develop a serious mental health problem.2

Research has shown that caregivers can buffer the impact of trauma and promote better outcomes for children even under stressful times when the following Strengthening Families Protective Factors3 are present:

  • Parental resilience
  • Social connections
  • Knowledge of parenting and child development
  • Concrete support in times of need
  • Social and emotional competence of children

Trauma Data Source:

  1. Mongillo, E.A., Briggs-Gowan, M., Ford, J.D., & Carter, A.S. (2009). Impact of Traumatic Life Events in a Community Sample of Toddlers. Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology, 37, 455-468. (Abstract retrieved from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19034643 Exit Disclaimer)
  2. Perry, B. The Real Crisis of Katrina. National Association to Protect Children, Child Trauma Academy (Retrieved from http://vachss.com/guest_dispatches/katrina-tragedy.html Exit Disclaimer)
  3. Horton, C. (2003). Protective factors literature review. Early care and education programs and the prevention of child abuse and neglect. Center for the Study of Social Policy.

Use these sample messages to share this early childhood trauma and resilience data point with your connections on Twitter and Facebook and via email.

Twitter: 35% of children exposed to a traumatic events develop serious #mentalhealth problems, learn more: http://1.usa.gov/eURFX5 via @samhsagov #1in5

Facebook: Young children exposed to traumatic events can develop emotional, behavioral, and mental health problems that can lead to more serious psychological problems as they grow up. Learn more about childhood trauma's impact on mental health in adulthood, and pass it on to observe National Children's Mental Health Awareness Day: http://1.usa.gov/eURFX5


If you or someone you know is in crisis and needs to talk, please call 1-800-273-TALK (1-800-273-8255).

Return to main page of SAMHSA.gov/Children | For more information, click here to email AwarenessDay2014@vancomm.com