by Christine Gradert, Senior Vice President, Family Resources
Some of the leading experts in the nation on psychological trauma were in the Quad Cities last week for two days of sessions on an issue that has an impact on all of us.
Dr. Robert Macy was one of the experts who presented at the Midwest Regional Psychological Trauma Conference on May 1st and 2nd.
They say children are resilient and bounce back from hardships. But abuse, neglect, witnessing violence or being on the receiving end of violence can have a deep impact that affects all of us unless it is recognized and treated.
Children experience Post Traumatic Stress Disorder – or symptoms of it – when they suffer violence or abuse particularly from a trusted caregiver such as a parent. This combination of violence and betrayal has an impact in the body and brain, and can cause a child to spiral downward. Later, as they enter a school situation or try to mix with other children or adults, the impact of the stress on their bodies and minds comes out in a variety of negative behavior.
Family Resources partnered with the Midwest Trauma Services Network and the International Trauma Center to host the 2nd Annual Midwest Regional Psychological Trauma Conference on May 1st and 2nd at the Quad Cities Waterfront Convention Center. Also on May 2nd, a conference was held at the iWireless Center in Moline on The Neurobiology of the Brain: How Trauma and Treatment Alter the Brain.
The conferences were attended by physicians, nurses, counselors, social workers, Family Resources staff, educators, representatives of the courts, and others who work with individuals who have suffered psychological trauma.
If untreated, these children have a greater tendency than other children to develop negative behaviors, including:
- · Involvement in crime at earlier ages
- · Friends that are delinquent
- · School problems and truancy
- · Substance abuse earlier and more severely
All of this costs the community, the state, and the nation.
Dr. Robert Kinscherff showed the impact of psychological trauma on young people, who grow up and become involved in the juvenile justice system in greater numbers than children who don’t experience trauma.
One of our speakers, Dr. Robert Kinscherff says, “If we do not effectively intervene when mental disorders and/or substance abuse disorders are emerging in youth, a cohort of adults will persist and worsen into adulthood and can be found overrepresented in the adult criminal justice system and the child welfare and protection system.”
Another expert, Dr. Robert Macy says that so many children are growing up disconnected from society because of the psychological pain inflicted on them, he fears that our freedom could be at stake if we fail as a nation to diagnose and treat these children.
We sometimes think that these are “bad kids.” But that’s because we don’t know the fear, pain, and rejection they’ve experienced because of violence and neglect. Even if we fail or refuse to recognize this, it costs us. And if fewer and fewer state and federal funds are earmarked for treatment and residential programs, we will all pay a price in the future.
The young people who come to our residential and educational programs usually have experienced psychological trauma. A month ago, nearly 50 members of our staff spent two days with Dr. Robert Macy and Frank Grijalva – two of the experts at last week’s Midwest Regional Psychological Trauma Conference – to further develop their skills in recognizing and treating children who have suffered trauma. We expect other training sessions in the coming months and years.
This is an issue that we at Family Resources consider as a priority.