children and trauma- the elephant in the living room


 When we think of trauma or post-traumatic stress disorder, we immediately think of soldiers. We seldom think of a woman who has been raped or a child who has been abused. The subject of children and trauma is the elephant in the living room in our world today. As a society we have to educate ourselves on the lifelong cellular damage of trauma so we can help our leaders make wise and compassionate decisions. So I don’t care if you vote red, blue, green or yellow. I don’t care who you voted for in 2016 or who you will vote for in November 2018. We are all human beings and this is about humanity.

I suspect we have more traumatized children in our world today than ever before. We have Central American children who have been separated from families in SW America, Yazidian girls kidnapped by ISIS being held as sex slaves, Syrian children, Yemeni children, Sudanese children and Rohingyan children all suffering physically and emotionally from war and ethnic cleansing. We have children being held in slavery either as forced laborers or sex workers. The list could go on for a mile.


Here’s the deal- traumatized children grow up to be traumatized adults, some of which will be traumatized leaders in their communities and countries. Our world in the near future will be governed by adults who have cellular damage caused by childhood trauma. This will effect how they relate to others and how they process information on a rational and analytical level. As Dr. Bessel van def Kolkata writes in the book, The Body Keeps Score: Brain, Mind, and Body in the Healing of Trauma, “After trauma the world is experienced with a different nervous system. The survivor’s energy now becomes focused on suppressing in chaos…The challenge is not so much learning to accept the terrible things that have happened but learning how to gain mastery over one’s internal sensations and emotions.”

Trauma effects our brain’s right hemisphere which controls our memory, attention span, reasoning, problem solving, communication including non-verbal. We know controlling anger can be an issue for traumatized people, so mix that with problems of reasoning and problem solving and what do you have? Maybe someone we wouldn’t want to be in a leadership role? Maybe someone who thinks war is a quick answer to a dispute? Maybe someone who traumatizes his/her own children? Without long term treatment, trauma perpetuates trauma.

I’ve invited my daughter Eleanor Brindle to join me on my blog next week. Eleanor did humanitarian work in the Middle East for several years. She did art therapy with Syrian children and movement therapy with rescued Yazidian girls. Presently she is back in the States working on a Master in Psychology specializing in Crisis Management and Trauma. She will share some of her experiences and knowledge as well as some books she has found helpful.

4 thoughts on “children and trauma- the elephant in the living room

  1. Very timely message, Ceil. A 13 y/o boy in Mobile shot and killed himself last week six years after his father shot and killed his mom.
    “Arise, cry out in the night, as the watches of the night begin; pour out your heart like water in the presence of the Lord. Lift up your hands to him for the lives of your children, who faint from hunger at every street corner..” Lamentations 2:19

    Liked by 1 person

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