Understanding Childhood Trauma

Childhood trauma is a scary term for a parent, and when many parents hear the term, they think of exposure to violence in the community or abuse in the home. But childhood trauma is much more than just those experiences, and research shows that 20% to 25% of all children in the United States will experience some form of trauma before they reach adulthood. In fact, several recent studies have shown that childhood trauma can alter a child’s DNA.

The Illinois Childhood Trauma Coalition (ICTC) has a website to help parents understand childhood trauma and how to get help for their child. The website, called Look Through Their Eyes, provides a one-minute introductory video about childhood trauma, a broader look at what childhood trauma is, and information and resources on bullying and community violence. There is also information on how to identify childhood trauma at various ages and where you can go for help if your child has experienced trauma.

The ICTC identifies some of the most common causes of childhood trauma as:

  • Accidents
  • Bullying/cyberbullying
  • Chaos or dysfunction in the house
  • Death of a loved one
  • Domestic violence
  • Emotional abuse or neglect
  • Incarcerated parent
  • Parent with a mental illness
  • Physical abuse or neglect
  • Separation from a parent or caregiver
  • Sexual abuse
  • Stress caused by poverty
  • Substance abuse
  • Sudden and/or serious medical condition
  • Violence (at home, at school, or in the surrounding community)
  • War/terrorism

Visit Look Through Their Eyesto learn more about childhood trauma.