The consequences of childhood trauma constitute a major public health problem. For many children, unaddressed consequences of trauma will adversely affect their entire lives and the lives of those around them. The effects of trauma can be pervasive, impacting on school readiness and performance, diminishing cognitive abilities, and leading to substance abuse, crippling mental disorders and costly physical health problems. Rapid identification of traumatized children could lead to early interventions which can diminish the negative sequelae and save enormous sums of money relative to the cost to society of the consequences in adulthood.
Traumatized children, as a group, manifest significantly higher levels of behavioral and emotional problems and academic failure than non-abused children. Problems commonly include depression, anxiety, aggression, conduct disorder, sexualized behaviors, eating problems, somatization, and substance abuse. Although the relative contribution of abuse and neglect versus family environment and genetic factors has been debated, studies confirm a significant causal relationship between child abuse and major psychopathology.
These deficits predispose children towards negative adolescent trajectories including early school drop-out, substance abuse, and promiscuity. They contribute significantly to adverse adult outcomes such as depression, PTSD, substance abuse, poorer medial health, and low occupational attainment.
Abused and neglected children have significantly poorer school performance than non-abused children. Children with maltreatment-related PTSD have significant impairments on attention tasks, abstract reasoning, and executive functioning compared with matched healthy children.
 “Mobilizing Trauma Resources for Children,” January 8, 2004, William W. Harris, Ph.D., Children’s Research and Education Institute; Frank W. Putnam, M.D., Children’s Hospital Medical Center, Cincinnati, Ohio; John A. Fairbank, Ph.D., UCLA-Duke University National Center for Child Traumatic Stress.