Scientific and clinical evidence shows that there are sufficiently large numbers of undiagnosed and untreated trauma-affected children in America today that justifies a larger public concern. This situation is a true, serious public health emergency which warrants the following necessary actions to mobilize the needed resources for children and families1:
- Conduct studies pertaining to traumatized children and families which are then accumulated and aggregated;
- Focus on locations where traumatized children are (such as schools, juvenile detention facilities, adolescent substance abuse treatment programs, shelters, and other residential settings) and establish/undertake a systematic program for screening, diagnosing, and treating traumatized children;
- Identify, examine, experiment, develop, and implement best practice strategies and protocols for reaching and helping as many as these children and families as possible; and
- Begin a public education project in order to explain this child trauma public health emergency.
These actions will require a long-term commitment by people in the trauma field in partnership with policy makers, elected officials, and their staffs. It is an understatement to say that there are severe personal and societal consequences for not acknowledging and addressing this public health emergency with treatment options.
1 “Mobilizing Trauma Resources for Children,” January 8, 2004, William W. Harris, Ph.D., Children’s Research and Education Institute, Belmont, MA; Frank Putnam, M.D., Mayerson Center for Safe & Healthy Children, Children’s Hospital Medical Center, Cincinnati, OH; John A. Fairbank, Ph.D., UCLA-Duke University National Center for Child Traumatic Stress, Duke University Medical Center, Durham, NC