Child Abuse: Trauma-informed care

by SO on March 31, 2014 - 8:44am

In a recent article from the scholar journal Youth Studies Australia, author Vaughan Bowie writes a great article about trauma-informed care. So.. What is trauma-informed care? According to the peer-reviewed article, care is said to be trauma-informed when safety, trustworthiness, choice, collaboration, and empowerment are the core values in every contact, physical setting, relationship, and activity of the program.  The author was on a business trip in Hawaii when a US Youth worker asked him what were the trending youth topics in Australia. The trending topic, in his opinion, was trauma-informed care. 


According to a survey conducted on 17,000 Americans, 63% of the respondents had experienced at least one category of childhood trauma: 28% had experienced physical abuse, 21 % had experienced sexual abuse (to list a few). The more childhood trauma the patient has experienced, the more chances they had of developing issues such as ‘‘health-related quality of life, alcoholism, depression, smoking, STDs, obesity, multiple sexual partners, suicide and violence’’.  Studies have also found that childhood experiences of abuse can impact brain development in children. The delayed brain development can sometimes result in ‘‘destructive and ‘puzzling’ behaviours’’.  Often, the people who have been victims of childhood abuse don’t want to receive help from institutions, such as trauma-informed care programs, or they abandon the program quickly, they give up due to their behavioural issues. Sometimes even, a possible consequence of abuse, is becoming an abuser as well, a term referred to as intergenerational perpetrators.  


The staff of care centres, are required to have the right formation or the care can be traumatizing instead of helpful. If the programs are not trauma-informed care, the environment becomes difficult for the victims of abuse, almost as if they are being bullied because the care-givers don’t know how to deal with them. The author claims he works on ‘‘changing toxic organizations into healthy ones’’. He tries to convert the bad organizations into qualified ones, to ensure that the organizations are actually helping the patients. 


Although this topic is very serious, and can sometimes be somewhat depressive, it is an important issue to address. Child abuse is all around us, more than we know. I am glad that there is someone out there, even if it is as far as Australia, that cares about rehabilitating the patients the right way. And hopefully, there are other individuals just like him all around the world fighting to make the world a better place one organization at a time. 



Trauma-informed care 

by Vaughan Bowie 

Youth Studies Australia

Volume 32, Number 4, 2013


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