Childhood trauma is nothing new. But it has become even more widespread because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Social isolation, lack of in-person schooling, parental stress, and fears about the disease created a perfect storm of stressors for children. Children aren’t the only ones suffering from trauma. Many teens and adults who experienced childhood trauma still live with its effects. When they act out, it’s easy to label them as bad or messed up. But the truth is, they are traumatized. Without help from friends, family, and in some cases, trained mental health professionals, they will not heal.
Childhood trauma seems to be a never-ending cycle. We keep saying we want to do something about it but we keep spending billions on the aftershocks of trauma, instead of spending millions on things that would stop the after-effects of trauma in its tracks.
Think about an earthquake. An earthquake has the potential to cause all kinds of damage, however, there are several examples of large aftershocks causing more damage and loss of life than the original earthquakes. When we are speaking of childhood trauma, it is like an earthquake with several devastating aftershocks.
Unfortunately, it has been discovered recently that the epigenetics of trauma can have generational effects. There have already been studies on humans exposed to traumatic conditions—among them, the children of Holocaust survivors—suggesting subtle biological and health changes in their children. It is frightening when you think that things that our great-grandparents were exposed to genetically altered us and changed our disease risks and mental health risks.
If trauma can trigger such epigenetic changes in people, the alterations could serve as biomarkers to identify individuals at greater risk for mental illness or other health problems—and as targets for interventions that might reverse that legacy.
We have a large numbers of our socio-economic disadvantaged children that live everyday for most of their lives in situations that resemble war zones, yet they are labeled as behavior problems. There have been all kinds of initiatives to make people aware of the effects of children using tobacco products, but silence on Childhood Trauma and the aftershocks.
Many adults with a history of untreated childhood trauma are more likely than the general population to experience physical health problems or end up in prison. Both are very costly for the taxpayers? For those that are getting treatment as adults, many are doing so with Medicaid.
Medicaid cost our country $613.5 Billion dollars in 2019. For those children labeled with behavior problems, many end up in prisons. The prison system costs taxpayers $80 billion a year. In one study of the more than 93,000 children currently incarcerated, between 75 and 93 percent have experienced at least one traumatic experience in childhood.
Childhood Trauma exposure was found to be strongly associated with a wide range of behavioral problems and clinical symptoms that affect all of us. My question is why?
Why are we spending money on fights we won’t win like police reform instead of investing in healing the trauma to prevent the confrontation that puts us in front of the gun resulting in being unjustly shot.
Why not spend millions of dollars on properly diagnosing and treatment of childhood trauma victims, instead of spending billions on the aftershocks of untreated childhood trauma?
Why does the Vice-Mayor of Cincinnati support the costs of surveillance and not the cost of getting to the root cause?
Why are proposed solutions like the House Bill HCR.14 currently being ignored by our local leaders?
Would we as a community and country rather spend billions when we could use those funds for addressing the need at it’s cause, and not the symptoms.