In a 60 Minutes segment, which aired Sunday, March 11, Oprah Winfrey explored the long-term adverse effects of early childhood trauma with a leading authority in field of early childhood development. Dr. Bruce Perry, psychiatrist and neuroscientist, discussed the complex issues and the technique of Trauma Informed Care to treat the maltreated and traumatized child.
Dr. Perry stated, “If you have development trauma, the truth is you’re going to be at risk for almost any kind of physical health, mental health and social health problem that you can think of.” Most interesting, and sad, is that research in neuroscience shows that “The very same sensitivity that makes you able to learn language ‘just like that!’ as a little infant, makes you highly vulnerable to chaos, threat, inconsistency, unpredictability and violence. So, children are much more sensitive to developmental trauma than adults.”
A child raised in a healthy, nurturing and stable environment is more likely to have a well-wired brain. Unfortunately, the reverse is also true. A child raised in a chaotic home with uncertainty and violence, will have a brain that is wired differently. Typically, these children are more vulnerable for a lifetime. In fact, the CDC reports that these individuals are five times as likely to be depressed and have live spans shortened by 20 years.
Dr. Bruce Perry shaped “trauma informed care.” Trauma informed care focuses on “what happened.” When mental health professionals focus on “What happened to you?” vs. “What’s wrong with you?” before trying to fix it, it makes the client feel safe. Under this type of care, clients report, “I felt understood. I felt seen and heard.”
Dr. Perry points out that we cannot break the cycle without trauma informed care. Perry says that the difference between a “bad childhood” and a “traumatic childhood” is that somebody helped – that is what makes the difference.
Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) for Children is central to fulfilling society’s most fundamental obligation by making sure a qualified, compassionate adult will fight for and protect a child’s right to be safe, to be treated with dignity and respect and to learn and grow in the safe embrace of a loving family. Take a stand against child abuse and join the CASA Movement today!