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Trauma as a result of child abuse and neglect

Traumaas a result of child abuse and neglect


Theissue of child trauma is still prevalent in the United States despitenumerous measures put up to control this problem. This problem haslasted in the society for more the past one century (Childhelp,2014). It is estimated that a total of 3 million child trauma casesare reported in America, annually. A further 600, 000 children arereported to experience child abuse, which leads to trauma (Childhelp,2014). It is also estimated that the country loses through death, adaily average of between 4 and 7 children (Childhelp, 2014). This issaid to be cause by neglect and child abuse. Out of this population,research shows that a rough estimate of about 650, 000 children livein foster homes (Childhelp, 2014). The average age of children infoster care is nine years (Childhelp, 2014). This shows that theproblem of child trauma is real and society needs to takeresponsibility for solving this problem (Personal Communication,1/7/14). The children face various traumas as a result of the abusethey face at home, but putting them in foster homes exposes them tomore traumas.

Childtrauma is a physical and psychological situation where the childexperiences harm (Cooper et al., 2007). Children who experiencetrauma are exposed from a young age and this is considered trauma ifit takes place for long periods, usually from a tender age when thechild is entirely dependent of another person (center for improvementof child and family services, 2009). Trauma results in short term andlong term developmental problems that hinder the development of thechild (center for improvement of child and family services, 2009).This is because the child spends most of his time and effort tryingto shield himself from abuse by being withdrawn and limiting hisinteractions. The developmental problems include impaired cognition,mood disorders, self- esteem, and behavioral control (center forimprovement of child and family services, 2009). This predisposes thechild to later life issues such as drug abuse, teen pregnancy,delinquency, psychological problems, and risky behaviors (center forimprovement of child and family services, 2009). These defensemechanisms develop as the child tries to shield himself from trauma

Childtrauma is associated with many negative outcomes for the child. Tobegin with, a traumatized child has an impaired cognitive development(center for improvement of child and family services, 2009). Thetraumatized child exhibits cognitive impairment, which is manifestedin the inability to learn quickly and the child, has difficulty inlearning new things (center for improvement of child and familyservices, 2009). The child also becomes withdrawn due to trauma(center for improvement of child and family services, 2009). This isbecause the child mistrusts others and thus, he learns to keep tohimself as a defense mechanism (center for improvement of child andfamily services, 2009). Withdrawal is what is associated withchildhood depression, as a result of trauma (center for improvementof child and family services, 2009). Additionally, the traumaassociated with being put up in foster homes also leads tore-traumatization and depression (center for improvement of child andfamily services, 2009).

Theproblem of child trauma has been in existence since the beginning ofthe twentieth century. The first center for child victims of traumawas established in 1902 (Childhelp, 2014). This was established so asto cater for traumatized children as a result of child abuse andneglect. This was due to the increased number of homeless children asit leads to trauma due to lack of proper care systems. This can beattributed to industrialization, which led parents to neglect theirchildren in search for a means of living while also raising stresslevels, which caused increased child abuse (Cooper et al., 2007). Therise of traumatized children due to child neglect and abuse promptedthe government to start foster institutions, which took care of thechildren. These homes were in the form of foster institutions thatoffered shelter and care for the children (Childhelp, 2014). This wasfollowed by privatized foster care where families were allowed toadopt children and take care of them (Cooper et al., 2007). Thepractice of private foster homes has gained prominence over the yearsand it caters for more children than the institutional foster homes(Cooper et al., 2007). The institutional homes are those run by thefederal government.

Childrenwho experience trauma usually develop defense mechanisms, whichendure for long periods until they influence the personality andcharacter (Jim Casey youth initiative, 2011). The child’s responseis usually in the form of fear, horror or helplessness (Jim Caseyyouth initiative, 2011). Trauma results from a difficult, unexpectedevents in the child’s life, the child is usually unprepared for theevent, and the child has no control over the occurrence of the event(Jim Casey youth initiative, 2011). Some of the responses to theseevents may be positive as they teach the child how to tackle theproblems in the environment by either being protective of themselvesor seeking help (Jim Casey youth initiative, 2011). For example, thechild usually learns how to protect himself from harm. However, whenresponses are negative and they endure for long periods, they affectthe physical and psychological development of the child (center forimprovement of child and family services, 2009). This leads to traumaas the negative behaviors are usually self destructive (center forimprovement of child and family services, 2009).

Itis estimated that the number of children facing trauma stands at3,000, 000 children annually (Childhelp, 2014). These children suffertrauma as a result from child abuse and neglect. These are only thereported cases and the high number indicates that the number ofunreported cases could be higher (Childhelp, 2014). Out of thisnumber, a rough estimate of about 650, 000 are put up in foster homes(center for improvement of child and family services, 2009). However,putting them up in foster homes has not proven to be a solution tothe trauma as they usually receive inadequate or no mental care(Cooper et al., 2007). It estimated that only about fifteen percentof these children receive mental care (center for improvement ofchild and family services, 2009).

Thisexplains why most children who have suffered trauma exhibitdelinquent behavior in future (center for improvement of child andfamily services, 2009). The current system only focuses on removingthe children from the traumatic environment (center for improvementof child and family services, 2009). This in itself adds to thetrauma because the children face many uncertainties in the newenvironment (center for improvement of child and family services,2009). Children who are exposed to trauma as a result of child abuseand neglect are removed from their homes, which is an added trauma.There is currently no social policy to help these children deal withthe trauma.

Accordingto the current law, children who are living in traumatizingsituations ought to be removed from the environment and put up infoster homes. This follows evaluation by a child welfare worker anddetermination of possible trauma. The child is then put up in fosterhomes where he receives care and protection. This is offered throughsheltering and provision of basic human needs. The law does notprovide for strong mental support care for the children. This createsa gap that is meant to strengthen the mental care for the children soas to help them overcome the trauma. The mental care also facilitatescare that protects the children from experiencing trauma as a resultof being put up in foster homes.

Researchshows that 19.2 per cent of the children in foster homes suffer fromtrauma associated with being removed from their home environment(Hieger, 2012). Additionally, children in foster institutions do notreceive mental care and this makes them withdrawn as a result of thetrauma they have suffered and trauma due to being put up in fosterhomes (center for improvement of child and family services, 2009).The high number shows that only taking the children from thetraumatic environments offers no solution the trauma must baddressed in order to help them deal with multiple traumaticexperiences. It only takes them to a different environment instead ofaddressing the trauma that caused their removal (center forimprovement of child and family services, 2009). This shows thattrauma continues to affect children on a national scale (center forimprovement of child and family services, 2009).

Traumacontinues to be a social problem because the existing system onlyfocuses on removing the child from the traumatic environment andusually offers no solution to the trauma that the children face fromthe abuse and neglect at home (center for improvement of child andfamily services, 2009 National center for children in poverty,2007). The children are offered a safe environment, but they do notheal from the trauma they faced as a result of abuse and neglect(center for improvement of child and family services, 2009 Cooper etal., 2007). This means that the problems continue to exist in theirminds and this result in psychological trauma, leading to maladaptivebehaviors (center for improvement of child and family services,2009). This explains why children who have faced trauma and moved tofoster homes still end up being maladaptive and engage in suchactivities as risky behaviors, mental health problems, teen pregnancyand drug abuse (center for improvement of child and family services,2009). As a result of children not being supported to face andovercome the trauma they were exposed to before these children remaintraumatized, which leads to psychological and developmental problems.

Additionally,children usually face trauma as a result of being removed from theirnatural homes and being separated from their parents (center forimprovement of child and family services, 2009). This leads to traumain foster homes as the children continue to feel neglected andrejected (center for improvement of child and family services, 2009).This shows that trauma continues to exist even after the child isremoved from the traumatic environment. The child ought to becounseled and trained on how to deal with the trauma so as to protecthim from re-experiencing trauma as a result of being put up in fosterhomes (center for improvement of child and family services, 2009).Additionally, the counseling can incorporate the parents so as toreduce the child abuse and neglect that leads to trauma.

Whena child is in a traumatic environment, it is usually recommended thatthe child is removed from the environment so as to provide safety(center for improvement of child and family services, 2009) However,the practice of being put up in foster homes, although helpful, hassome shortcomings. The removal and moving into a different unknownenvironment is traumatic and must also be addressed throughcounseling (center for improvement of child and family services,2009). In most cases, the child undergoes psychological and emotionalchanges as he tries to adapt to the new environment such as newguardians and children (center for improvement of child and familyservices, 2009). The child usually has to put up with new caretakers and style of doing things. This is because the children oftenhave to adapt to a new and completely different environment away fromwhat is known to him or her (center for improvement of child andfamily services, 2009). Research shows that removing the child fromthe natural environment with the biological parent usually results indepression and withdrawal (center for improvement of child and familyservices, 2009 Cooper et al., 2007). This withdrawal is as a resultof trauma associated with being put up in foster homes (center forimprovement of child and family services, 2009). This suggests thatit is best for the child to provided mental health services to helpthem deal with the multiple traumas the child has endured trauma(center for improvement of child and family services, 2009).Additionally, the child experiences grief as he is removed from hisnatural environment (center for improvement of child and familyservices, 2009). Those who go to foster institutions usually receivepoor quality education and usually leave the homes before they areready to take care of themselves (Cooper et al., 2007). Thisindicates that despite the advantages gained from being in lesstraumatic environments, the children are still exposed to social andpsychological problems that may affect them in the long term as thecause of the trauma they experience is often not resolved throughmental care (Cooper et al., 2007).

Theproposed policy would require all&nbspfoster children to seek MentalHealth services to help them deal with the multiple traumas. Sincethese children and youth spend most of their time in school theywould seek services at the school setting.&nbspSchool staff such ascounselors would have to partner with school therapist and both wouldhave to help the foster child adjust and deal with the trauma (Cooperet al., 2007). The therapist will help the child by using TF-CBTmodel once per week and for the rest of the days the child will haveto&nbsp&quotcheck in&quot&nbspwith the counselor and will talkabout his/her day. This will all be done to help the child deal withthe trauma as a result of the abuse, neglect, and their removal. Thissupport will also be given in order to help protect these childrenfrom behavioral and other problems that are a result of the trauma.

Thecurrent national child welfare for trauma deals with helping thechild to get out of the traumatic environment. The child is alsotaken through minimal counseling to help him deal with the changes.However, the system does not delve into helping individual childrendeal with the trauma experienced and this means that the childrenremain traumatized. Additionally, do not receive counseling thathelps them deal with trauma as a result of being put up in fosterhomes. The policy proposal is for the children to receiveindividualized counseling as well as counseling as a result of thetrauma experienced with being put up in foster homes.

Byenacting a national policy to address and resolve the trauma thatfoster children experience due to the abuse and removal from theirhomes by helping them directly deal with trauma through TF-CBT whilereceiving support at school. Past efforts policies were made thoroughthe Katie A Settlement, this lawsuit helped initiate mental healthservices for foster care children in their communities and homes(Bazelon Center for Mental Health Law: Katie A. SettlementAgreement). Unlike this settlement, this policy requires all childrento seek mental health services at their schools and therapist workingwith these children will be required to use the TF-CBT model to helpthem deal with the trauma.

Thispolicy would require both parents and children to be given supportiveservices to help them deal with the trauma they endured but the focuswould be different. As a result it is crucial to address the traumathat the children and teens have been exposed to in order to helpthem talk about the trauma as this is an important step in overcomingthe trauma (center for improvement of child and family services,2009). The children and teens will be educated on trauma, itsconsequences, and the different ways that people can react totraumatic events (center for improvement of child and familyservices, 2009). It is also important to educate the caregivers ofthe children who caused the child to experience the traumatic eventin order to end the cycle of trauma caused abuse and neglect (Hughes,2014). This is essential to educate the caregivers about the traumathat they caused and the developmental consequences as a result ofthis trauma (center for improvement of child and family services,2009). It is also critical that the parents are also given support totalk about the trauma that they too, experienced as a result of theirchildren being removed from their care. As a result, biologicalparents or caregivers, who exposed the child to trauma, will also begiven mental health services through TF-CBT. This is because parentsthemselves were also traumatized by their parents as a result ofchild neglect and abuse and need to be educated (Hughes, 2014). Theytoo, will be educated on trauma and the consequences it causes. Thiswill also prevent this cycle from occurring in the future.


Traumadue to child abuse and neglect, if not addressed will lead to cycleof trauma, drugs, teen pregnancy, risky behavior, and mentaldisorders (center for improvement of child and family services,2009). These issues affect society as the people who become drugaddicts or engage in other risky behaviors can harm society.Additionally, the society shoulders the burden of taking care of suchpeople. For example, the government has to take the responsibility ofsetting up rehabilitation centers. This makes it very important forpolicy formulation that focuses on treating trauma in children so asto prevent them from becoming societal misfits, who end up being aburden and a danger to society.

Theissues of risky behavior are wide and complex. Such behaviors includetaking drugs and careless sexual behaviors. This has the danger ofpromoting the spread of sexually transmitted diseases that pose adanger to relationships (Center for Improvement of Child and FamilyServices, 2009). Additionally, the drug addicts end up in crime andthis means that society is in danger of being attacked by the drugaddicts. This leads to insecurity and the spread of diseases. Thesenegative outcomes cost the society a lot more through rehabilitationand loss of important and valuable manpower. This shows that it isimportant to tackle child trauma through mental counseling so as toprevent the onset of risky behavior.

Traumaleads to maladaptive adults who pose as danger to society as a resultof maladaptive behaviors (Heiger, 2012). The child is also withdrawnif he does not receive mental counseling and this leads to socialproblems associated with poor socialization, such as depression(Heiger, 2012). The children are also likely to sink into socialproblems such as drug abuse in future, if they do not receivepsychological counseling (Cooper et al., 2007 center for improvementof child and family services, 2009). Politically, the poor policiesresult in misinformed political allocation of funds that do nottackle the issue of child trauma and the trauma associated withfoster homes (Cooper et al., 2007).

Economically,the process of putting up children in foster homes is expensive andit usually leads to no change if the child does not receive mentalcounseling directly addressing the trauma (Childhelp, 2014). Thisshows that the process only results in high costs and does not offerany solutions to the problem. Removing the children from their homesand putting them up in foster homes and institution comes at a highcost (Heiger, 2012). According to the childhelp (2014) the UnitedStates pays 124 billion annually for child abuse and neglect. Notonly is trauma as a result of child abuse and neglect costing thesociety billions but trauma is not directly addressed to helpchildren and teens recover from it.

Traumatizedchildren often grow up to become maladaptive individuals who usuallysink into delinquency and drug abuse as a result of trauma (Heiger,2012). This destabilizes the social structure of society as thesociety lives in perpetual fear (Cooper et al., 2007). Additionally,the children also pose a security risk and huge amounts of money arespent in crime control (center for improvement of child and familyservices, 2009). This is money that can be used in development, buthas to be diverted to tackle crime that is caused by childhood traumaand maladaptive behavior (Cooper et al., 2007).

Kingdon’sagenda setting policy

Theprocess of implementing the proposed policy requires a healthynational agenda that involves all the members of the society(Personal communication). This will improve the policy by collectingmore views to improve the policy, as well as seek more informationabout the issue of child trauma. According to Kingdon, the processof setting an agenda requires three critical streams and they includepolicy, politics, and problem (Kingdon, 2003) The process of making apolicy a national agenda involves identifying the problem, in thiscase, child trauma as a result of child abuse and neglect (Kingdon,2003). This ought to be a problem that affects people from everysocial and economic background. The problem has to have a nationalscale for it to place on the national agenda. The process ofidentifying child trauma as a national problem requiresidentification of statistical, social and economic factors (Kingdon,2003).

Childtrauma is viewed as a social problem in America as it affects manychildren who pose as social and economic problem to society if nottackled. Studies show that the citizens appreciate the efforts put inplace to tackle child trauma, but there is need to improve theinterventions as the problems still persists (Cooper et al., 2007).This according to Kingdon, shows that there is ground for forming anational agenda around the problem of child trauma as the issue ofchild trauma is identified as a cause for maladaptive behavior(Kingdon, 2003). This means that the process of passing it throughthe problem stream of agenda setting will receive little or noresistance as the public already identifies the issue of child traumaas a problem (Kingdon, 2003). The trauma policy that seeks to addresstrauma through TF- CBT therapy is likely to pass through the problemstream as it offers a different approach to the issues of childtrauma.

Oncethe problem is identified, there ought to be clear channels ofcommunication, to the public and the government, which highlight theexistence of the problems and use factual indicators to proposepolicy changes to the problem of child trauma due to child abuse andneglect (Cooper et al., 2007). The process of policy formulation cantake two forms. The first is to propose policies to the public thatare backed up by factual information about child trauma (Cooper etal., 2007). The policy formulators can then request for public inputto the policies so as to improve them. Secondly, those who bring theproblem to the public agenda can request the public to offer possibleand practical solutions to the problem of child trauma so as to solveit through informed public policy. This gives the policy formulatorsa chance to adopt the most favorable policies to tackle the problem.

Theindicators of child trauma include the high percentage of childrenwho continue to exhibit negative behavior despite being put up infoster homes. This is done through a sustained process of collectingfacts and figures that reflect the magnitude of the problem and theneed to tackle the problem (Kingdon, 2003). This indicates that thechildren need to undergo counseling so as to overcome trauma (Cooperet al., 2007). These facts are then presented to the political classfor budgetary allocation (Kingdon, 2003). The high number of childrenwho experience trauma as a result of being put up in foster homeswithout being counseled also indicates the practice needs policychange. This shows that the focus should be more on counseling thechildren to overcome trauma and not removing them from the traumaticenvironment (Cooper et al., 2007). The social values that define thesociety hold that all children are entitled to an emotionally andpsychologically healthy environment and this would be a suitable wayof driving the agenda on policy change on child trauma (Cooper etal., 2007).

Thepolitical stream focuses on bringing the issue of child trauma to theattention of the political parties (Kingdon, 2003). The policy streamalso focuses on offering policy solutions to the political parties(Kingdon, 2003). An issue needs to be placed on the national agendafor it to receive political attention and in order to get governmentfunding (Kingdon, 2003). The process requires those monitoring theproblem to have workable solutions that can be presented to thepolitical class. The political stream is in charge of securinggovernment funding as well as support systems for the problem ofchild trauma.

Thepolicy stream involves presenting the potential solutions to theproblem to the community so as to get the community’s support. Thisgives a solution that is different and offers a different perspective(Cooper et al., 2007). This policy gains support through statisticalfacts about the scope of the problem and the current policy. This isfollowed by offering the new policy proposal that is meant to tacklethe problem. This new policy is presented by professional who haveexperiences with the existing policies as this makes them trustworthy(Cooper et al., 2007). The policy is usually created through aconsultative process in the primeval soup, which involves collectingdifferent views.

Kingdon(2003) describes that the national mood regarding child traumaimpacts its place on the political stream. The national mood theoryof agenda setting states that suitable agendas are those that focuson presenting the problem at the correct time when the window ofopportunity opens (Kingdon, 2003). For example the issue of childtrauma can be placed as an issue on high priority in the agenda ifthe problem is presented following reports of severe cases of childabuse (Kingdon, 2003). This is because society would recognize thisas a social problem that society is responsible for solving(Personal, communication, Dr. Bagdasaryan, 1/23/14). The nationalmood is usually in favor of possible solutions that are attached toproblems (Kingdon, 2003). The report of the abused child set thenational mood and sets the agenda for child trauma solutions to beplaced on the political stream. These reports highlight the extent ofthe problem and will thus create a national outcry to help thesechildren overcome their trauma (Kingdon, 2003). The national moodusually points to the need for possible solutions and the nationalagenda is set, which seeks for ways of tackling the problem (Kingdon,2003).

Thepolicy proposal is likely to pass because it offers a differentapproach that seeks to solve the existing problem and prevent theproblem from occurring in future (Kingdon, 2003). This is because thecurrent trend of removing the child from the traumatic environmenthas not proven to be effective in preventing the child frommaladaptive behavior (Center for Improvement of Child and FamilyServices, 2009). The policy proposal provides a solution that willhelp traumatized children overcome their trauma and it also workswith parents who exposed these children. The policy proposal oftackling the causes of trauma also prevents future occurrences ofchildhood trauma.


Theopposition groups argue that individual mental counseling is notimportant as children can still heal from trauma as they develop.This protects the child from further trauma (Heiger, 2012). The childought to be put in a safe environment where he receives protectionand care. This is because the first step of overcoming trauma isthrough a different and safe environment (Cooper et al., 2007). Thiscan only be offered away from the traumatic environment. Despitereceiving the necessary support, the parent is not likely to changeimmediately and this exposes the child to more abuse as the parentseeks help (Cooper et al., 2007). This mean that the child remainsexposed to trauma (Heiger, 2012).

Thegoal of the policy is to help the children to overcome the traumathey face so that they do not risk falling into problems that areassociated with trauma (Center for Improvement of Child and FamilyServices, 2009). The policy of mental counseling through the schoolsystem focuses on using comfortable yet established systems ofsolving the problem. The policy also seeks to communicate the extentof the problem and the existent policy. This also acts as acommunication channel of the policy proposal that is meant to tacklethe existing problem (Center for Improvement of Child and FamilyServices, 2009). The policy is likely to help society get rid ofmaladaptive individuals in future. This is because they do notbelieve maladaptive behaviors.

Thestrategy is meant to take a period of six months. The policy will bedeveloped through a public agenda process and submitted to thenecessary authorities. A pilot program will be carried out for apopulation of about 30 children to observe how they respond totreatment. This will be used as justification of the need for policychange. This program will then be rolled out countrywide so as toachieve a holistic result. The program is designed such that eachchild suffering from trauma receives intensive psychologicalcounseling for a total of two months.

Thepolicy proposal seeks to churn out mentally, socially, andemotionally children by helping them to overcome trauma. The proposalis meant to tackle the issue of trauma because removing the childfrom the traumatic environment does not offer a solution to trauma(Center for Improvement of Child and Family Services, 2009). Therefore, the proposal’s aim is to offer counseling to both thevictim and the perpetrator. The proposal seeks to offer healing tothe children and the parent and help them to overcome the trauma, asno other policy does, in order to help put an end to the cycle oftrauma. The communication seeks to avail more information to thesociety about the problem of child trauma and its impact byhighlighting the prevalence and impact of child trauma.

Inorder for the policy to be implemented it would first be presented tothe public for debate. This includes past interventions and theiroutcomes and why they have failed and need replacement. This willreceive little opposition and stimulate the public, through a publicagenda, to discuss the policy through a new dimension. The policyought to also be backed by statistics of similar successfulinterventions so that it does not receive much opposition. Theopposition groups can be handled by presenting the high number ofunsuccessful current measures of only removing the child from thetraumatic environment. Their arguments also do not show how to helpthe children overcome trauma. This will indicate the need for adifferent approach as statistical information indicates that thecurrent policies do not yield the anticipated level of success.

Inconclusion, the issue of child trauma as a result of abuse andneglect is a historical one. The problem results in maladaptivebehaviors that affect the person in adulthood, leading to severaldevelopmental consequences. The current practice involves taking thechildren to foster homes, so as to protect them from the traumaticenvironment. However, this leads to further trauma as the child triesadapt to the new environment. This often leads to depression,withdrawal, and anxiety (Cooper et al., 2007). This current policydoes not solve nor addresses the trauma that the children experience.This calls for counseling of the child so as to directly help them toovercome the trauma they experienced due to child abuse and neglect,as well as being put up in foster homes. Enacting this policy willtake hard work but it can be done by following Kingdon’s theory ofagenda setting. This tackles the problem, the policy and thepolitical aspects of agenda setting (Kingdon, 2003).


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Kingdon,J. W. (2003). Agendas,alternatives, and public policies.New York, NY u.a.: Longman.

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