Childhood Trauma Essays

Introduction for Essay

Trauma is defined as a disruption of the mind to which unpleasant experiences stay and the person is unable to cope with them. Trauma is not something that disappears from one day to the other. It rather is something that is a work in progress that can eventually be coped with in the future with the appropriate measures. Childhood traumas seem to be more impactful than adulthood traumas. Any trauma at any stage can be difficult to determine since not everyone is the same and does not cope the same way.

Research Paper on Childhood Trauma

Trauma is a burden that can follow up with a child or an adult. It is easy to say that trauma can be treated and easily processed from the beginning depending on where you start. Children may have a different understanding than an adult would, and it is harder to process what is a trauma and yet alone not know how to fix it. Adults have the chance to have a better understanding and try to see whether treatment is in the best interest depending on their factors. So is trauma more impactful in the early years rather than the adult year, and would treatment be best if provided in those years?

Argumentative Essay Examples on Childhood Trauma

Trauma is very impactful to those whom it impacts, but it also is a huge factor in the development of children. When a child is growing physically, mentally, and emotionally, trauma can disrupt the course of these human factors. For example, a child is like a plant, they start off fresh on their path, but any disruptions can harm their growth. Physically hurting the plant by picking at it or stomping on it can damage it. Even though it may still have the ability to grow but not the same as it was when it was undisturbed. A traumatized child, in a sense, will have to continue their life but with their trauma and not be able to progress properly as they should. A plant that can withstand seasonal changes, which continues to grow and adapt to the changes it’s being forced to go through while referring to a child, it’s the challenges that a child goes through when growing up. Changes and experiences are what shape a child on their path, but when it actually impacts their growing process, like a plant, they are not developing the way they should be.

Thesis Statement for Childhood Trauma

As some will say, childhood trauma is worse than adulthood trauma because children are more vulnerable than adults. Both are the same in the sense of it being the same diagnosis but happen to be two distinctly different stages where a child is growing, and an adult goes through dramatic changes which can change the course of one’s set mindset. In the article, Experiencing Violence in a Developmental Context, Marans and Adelman (1997) explain how Violence being a traumatic experience, can affect anyone at any stage. They say,” What sets childhood trauma apart from adulthood trauma is that, for children, the adaptive capacities, defensive structures, and internal resources– as these are determined by developmental processes– are vastly different from those potentially available in adults” (Marans & Adelman, 1997, p. 3) which implies that children are more affected because of their age. This helps provide us with more insight into whether or not childhood trauma is more serious than when it starts in adulthood. A child’s sense of development is still too vulnerable to handle traumas with long-term consequences. To first overcome a trauma, there needs to be acceptance of what that trauma is. Small kid does not yet understand what trauma is, let alone decided for themselves that they need to accept their trauma.

Research Types: Impact on Child Development

Another study that can further help illustrate another type of way that children are harmed and affected more is (Felitti et al., 1998). His article focused on rates of how relationships are among childhood exposures. The article reports some evidence that says that trauma can lead to health risk factors which can lead to death in adulthood. Setting this type of foundation for a child is not a well one which can bring many harmful side effects. At a young age, a child is more prone to get scared and easily develop unhealthy concerns. Being afraid or being stunned in the moment of an event causes a child to panic and become weak, which can lead to them developing anxiety due to fear. Anxiety can carry on into adulthood and affect their everyday life and activities, which can be triggered by anything. Long-term effects, like anxiety, do arise from childhood trauma like being exposed to Violence, abuse, neglect, and sexual abuse.

Titles: Long-Term Consequences of Childhood Trauma

In the article, Relationship of Childhood Abuse and Household Dysfunction to Many of the Leading Causes of Death in Adults, by (Felitti et al., 1998), he proposes a pyramid on a birth to death scale which contains the following starting from birth: Adverse Childhood Experiences, Social, Emotional & Cognitive Impairment, Adoption of Health-risk Behaviors, Disease, Disability, and Social Problems and Early Death. These imply what happens when a child is exposed to trauma and then, throughout their lives, goes through life impairments and concerns that arose from the trauma. For example, a child who experiences sexual abuse in the next stage proceeds to have post-traumatic symptoms, then health-wise may develop an eating disorder due to shame and guilt over their body as to why they were abused, then not be able to socialize or have trust with others which later can lead to early death due to the harmful factors that they inhabited. In this case, it shows how very impactful trauma is at a young age, and even with treatment can still impact the victim very heavily.

Recollection of Traumatic Events in Children

Ghosts and Angels: Intergenerational Patterns in the Transmission and Treatment of the Traumatic Sequelae of Domestic Violence, written by Lieberman (2007), is more of a recent article that mentions how vivid trauma is among children and to be able to recall it. Having a child recall an event is a good and bad way due to the unknown responses a child may have. Seeing a parent do something dangerous can reflect in the child by acting out, being afraid, or having an imaginary ideal that is like a dream. A quote from the article with an example states, “The second example involves Sophia, a child who blamed herself for what happened to her mother and became severely stunted in her developmental progress after witnessing her mother being brutally mugged and nearly raped by an intruder as they were coming into their home.”, which implies that children start a new mindset based off of a horrific visual.

Importance of Early Intervention

In the example provided, the child was about two and a half years old, which brings us to a new state of trauma. A toddler almost can be greatly affected, especially when a parent is involved. At this point, trauma is a bit hard to deal with and cope with at this age since they are way too vulnerable and naive to what the world is. It seems to be easier to treat a child who is above the age of six or to begin to think that treatment will work and that they will understand. In article suggests that at lower than five years, it is important to receive treatment since these are the years that are crucial for building up a child’s personality and growth factors. If parents know about the trauma, it is in their best interest to provide and seek help for the child. It is not known how a child would react after a trauma or if, at the moment, they are stunned but better to provide treatment to avoid any later dysfunctions.

This leads us to the last article, which mentions the understanding of recovery. Mary R. Harvey’s article, Towards an Ecological Understanding of Resilience in Trauma Survivors: Implications for Theory, Research, and Practice, suggests understanding and implying factors to help resilience is achievable. A quote from the article, “Interventions to foster positive attachments in early childhood support the child’s acquisition of age-appropriate competencies later in childhood, and access to settings that promote competence, agency, and empowerment will play an important role in preparing individuals to cope with stress and adversity.” (Harvey, 2007, p.18) implies a set foundation can help achieve resilience. It implies interventions and appropriate treatment. Children can progress normally. It helps see that starting a positive childhood can lead to a positive adulthood and somehow get back on this track after a trauma. Along with the mentioned articles, research does suggest to intervene at a young age to put a barrier around trauma and understand it.

On the other hand, besides childhood trauma and intervention, an article called, Loss, Trauma, and Human Resilience – Have We Underestimated the Human Capacity to Thrive After Extremely Aversive Events? , by Bonanno (2004), supports that victims can overcome trauma and strive to get back to their daily lives to function normally. Whether it is an adult or a child, resilience is something that is real and can be achievable. The author mentions a bit more about how adults cope with different traumas like loss, violence, and life-threatening situations but also mentions a small part of children which is interesting. Bonanno (2004) states, “Moreover, developmental psychologists have shown that resilience is common among children growing up in disadvantaged conditions (e.g., Masten, 2001)”, which comments on how children too can be resilient.

Though he does not go into specific details on this particular subject, it does have importance because we, people, tend to think that only adults can cope with trauma because they understand better. What he means by the quote, children do have the capacity to advance and cope like an adult would be able to do. The reason for this why is that having disadvantages in life, especially for a child, is somewhat of a push to not fall into their trauma as they should because there is not much there in their lives to help them. Also, having disadvantages can already have built a mindset for a child to be strong and better cope since they have already experienced negative things in life. This also correlates with a memoir written by Antwone Fisher, who writes about his rough childhood, which also stands the argument of children being able to cope and receive treatment later in adulthood as opposed to what Marans and Adelman (1997) propose.

Resilience and Recovery

In the memoir, Finding Fish by Antwone Fisher, the main character and author explains the challenges and traumas of his childhood into adolescence but shows great resilience from the start. Yes, as previously mentioned (Marans & Adelman, 1997), children are more prone to be affected, but even without treatment in their childhood years, they can overcome some of their traumas, as Bonanno (2004) mentions. Finding Fish provides insight into how trauma can affect your sense of the world and have you believe a false sense of yourself, but over the years, one can cope and strive through those imperfect thoughts.

Once at the adult stage, one can manage the fears and better understand the depth of what is called trauma. In this memoir, Antwone Fisher, the author and main character, had a difficult time overcoming the events that occurred with his foster family, which followed him into adulthood. At that point, Antwone realized that he did need help, and after some time had passed, he began to see the effects that it had left of him, which was aggression and managed to deal with and overcome it. Depression is also a key risk factor due to the inability to get passed the trauma and have it hanging over a child for years which probably will start to show more once they grow older.

Potential for Resilience Despite Adverse Conditions

A quote from, Finding Fish, “I understand the concept, and in many ways, I have forgiven those persons, for my benefit” (Fisher, 2001, p.348), shows how Antwone, as an adult, showed mercy for those who hurt him but not only that, he had had that type of mindset and feelings as a child towards those who hurt him. As a child, he began to see that people hurt and dehumanized him, but in the end, he somehow had it figured out and continued life. In his adulthood is when he got help which does show that treatment in adulthood is still effective without receiving it in the childhood stage. In this case, it contradicts treatment being most effective at an early age and as well as that childhood traumas are worse.

Another great book called, Unbroken, by Laura Hillenbrand, explains the traumatic journey of a war hero who all his life had ups and downs that defined him and molded him into the man he became and not what the downs in life could have made him. A quote from the book, “Confident that he was clever, resourceful, and bold enough to escape any predicament, [Louie] was almost incapable of discouragement. When history carried him into war, this resilient optimism would define him.” (Hillenbrand, 2010, p.7) illustrates how the amount of power that the main character, Louie, had is what got him through his traumas. This helps support the idea that even at a young age, having a positive sense of the world can get you far. A bit of information on Louie was that he grew up not being the richest kid with not having much to eat, which was a highlighted detail and to what people say acted out, but in reality, it was who he was.

Being a rebel at such a young age, in a sense, shaped him to later be able to handle the impossible, which indeed did come his way. As mentioned above, children need treatment when exposed to trauma, and in Louie’s case, he never received treatment, and it seemed as if his optimism in life was a sort of treatment for him. Being able to look the other way and think positively in a worst-case scenario is not something everyone can do, and Louie should capability of it. Into his adult years after the war, he proceeds to live a normal life and, of course, has some issues from his trauma but not enough to stop his life rather than accept them. Acceptance did come from an early age which was shaped by his personality and sense of being, which later in life helped him, and even being an adult already, he understood either way of what had happened in his life. This comes to show that treatment does not necessarily help or needs to be introduced to the victim to cope and continue life.


In conclusion, Marans and Adelman (1997) did show great evidence of how children are exposed and best required that treatment should be given at this time of age when trauma occurs, which can be said that it is agreeable to eliminate and not further any dysfunction in children and not further wait for the effects to affect their adulthood. But, in other articles and autobiographies like Finding Fish or Unbroken, treatment in childhood was not available, and for both of the characters, it was not an option and had disadvantages that withheld treatment back. What both characters did have was optimism and resilience throughout their lives, which gave them that boast that may have replaced treatment. In their adulthood, they learn to accept their lives and carry on even without proper treatment and show that trauma could not get the best of them. In cases like these, treatment was not necessary, but in others, it may be in the best interest to go ahead and intervene with treatment in the early years to be cautious and prevent.

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