A Discussion on the Negative Impact of Trauma on Children

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In Chapter 1 of How Children Succeed, Paul Tough argues that trauma in childhood has a negative effect on children. However, this negative effect can be changed. A child's environment plays a big factor in mental and physical moving into an adult. When buying a new house, we all usually hope for convenient transportation, nice restaurants, and many good schools for children. But there is not one good factor in Fenger High School. It's located in Chicago's South Side, one of the worst-off neighborhoods, which has high poverty and crime rate. In this condition, even though this school receives a huge budget from the state government, the students still don't do well in studying, get low test scores, and have chronic discipline problems. Because the school location is affected by the nearby environment, education couldn't fix the problems, so principal Dozier had to enforce strong policies in order to make the school safe. In Adverse Childhood Experience(ACE) study, introduced by Vincent Felitti and Robert Anda, who works for Kaiser Permanente, the giant health maintenance organization, the scientists measured childhood trauma level and found that the higher the ACE score, the worse outcome will be. People who have higher ACE point has a higher chance of smoking, alcoholics even get cancer.

The environment also causes stress to body reaction. The stress affects not only physiological but also psychological problems. What our body reacts when stress comes? That will be "hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal," called ATP, the system regulates stress. When facing stress, our mouth becomes dry, conserving fluids because our HPA axis senses danger. It was used by ancients to escape predators or fight beasts. But this system isn't designed for today's stress because, in the modern world, most people need to worry about mortgages, relationships, and promotions more than fight for food. What's more, if our body keeps in stressful conditions, it will break down the strain. This process is called "allostatic load".The HPA axis also produces serious and long-lasting negative effects, like physical and psychological, in our childhood.

Our body will react automatically when stress comes, it's so fast, like well training firefighters to rush off to the fire together without analyzing the program. It's a good defense function but sometimes causes more serious problems. In section 1.5, there is an example, a teenager named Monisha Sullivan. When she was a child, her fire alarm often went on, things like her mother and stepmom were punching each other. When she grows up, the situation becomes worse, her hands tremble uncontrollably, her hair starts falling out, and she becomes anxious about unimportant things. Stress physiologists have found a biological explanation for this phenomenon, the prefrontal cortex is part of the brain affected by stress. Children who grow up in stressful environments like Monisha's will find it harder for them to concentrate, sit still, and follow directions. Those factors directly affect their performance in school, the kids who don't know how to manage their tempers or calm down. The biggest program for them is regulating their emotion.

Most of the time, we can't change the environment, and stress happens. But we can change the way we treat our children. In the experiment, the scientists find mother rats licking and grooming baby rats after weighing them, and this behavior is called "LG." Scientists also find high -LG rats become better mazes. They were more social, curious, and had more self-control. This experiment shows parental behavior influences stress response and could be traced to our DNA. The DNA is related to the stress response. Abuse, which is totally the opposite effect of LG, causes more stress for children. For humans, most behavior like LG is called attachment. Attachment theory is a child's relationship with their parents in terms of their social and cognitive development. Due to interventions can separate different kinds of attachments: secure, disorganized, and anxious attachment. Lieberman, who runs the Children Trauma Research Program in San Francisco, said parents could change the anxious attachment to secure attachment by their approach to their children.

There are a lot of ways to help our child to overcome stress. When a child faces stress, they can handle it by themselves or get help from classmates, family, and school programs. We can create a good environment for our kids and let them focus on studying and doing things they like.

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A Discussion on the Negative Impact of Trauma on Children. (2023, Mar 07). Retrieved May 22, 2024 , from

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