5 Steps To Helping Young Trauma Survivors

How do you help young violence victims, who may or may not even fully comprehend the less than positive experience they’ve survived?

Helping children begins at the scene of the event. It may need to continue for weeks or months. Most children recover within a few weeks. Some need help longer. Grief (a deep emotional response to loss) may take months to resolve. It could be for a loved one or a teacher. It could be for a friend or pet. Grief may be re-experienced or worsened by news reports or the event’s anniversary.

Some children may need help from a mental health professional. Some people may seek other kinds of help. They may turn to religious leaders. They may turn to community leaders.

Identify children who need the most support. Help them obtain it. Monitor their healing.

Step 1: Identify children who…

  • Refuse to go places that remind them of the event
  • Seem numb emotionally
  • Show little reaction to the event
  • Behave dangerously

These children may need extra help.

Step 2: In general, adults should…

  • Attend to children
  • Listen to them
  • Understanding to their feelings, and avoid making judgments/being negative
  • Help them cope with the reality of their experiences

Step 3: Reduce effects of other sources of stress, including…

  • Frequent moving or changes in place of residence
  • Long periods away from family and friends
  • Pressures at school
  • Transportation problems
  • Fighting within the family
  • Being hungry/not having other fundamental needs met

Step 4: Monitor healing…

  • Always remember that healing from traumatic experiences can take very different amounts of time, depending on the person and the nature of the ordeal.
  • Do not ignore severe reactions to trauma, and know when to reach out for additional help, such as other family members or a healthcare professional.
  • Be on the lookout for sudden changes in behavior, speech, language use, or heightened emotional states.

Step 5: Remind children that….

  • They are loved
  • They are safe
  • They are supported

Black Teens & Pregnancy: Are Today’s Facts Better Or Worse?

Two teen girls smiling, with one girl wrapping her arm around the other girlAbout one million teenagers become pregnant each year in the United States, accounting for 13% of all U.S. births. While teen pregnancy rates have declined, black teens are still two to three times more likely than white teens to become pregnant. Yes, progress has been made, but there needs to be a continued focus on the overall reproductive and mental health needs of today’s young black women.

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• Twenty-three percent of 14 year olds and 30% of all 15 year olds have had sexual intercourse.

• Early childbearing tends to reduce the mother’s opportunity to attain a high level of education and employment.

• Teen mothers are more likely to live in poverty, hurting the overall quality of a young mother’s life.

READ: New Federal Ruling On Morning-After Pill

• Adolescent pregnancies account for approximately 80% of unplanned pregnancies. Nearly 45% of teen pregnancies end in abortion.

• Approximately 9% of African American teenagers gave birth in 1996 – the lowest number since the government began keeping this statistic.

• The percentage of sexually active teens using condoms has increased. Teenagers who have sex are more likely to use contraceptives than in the past.

• Babies born to young mothers are more likely to be low birth weight, to have childhood health problems and to be hospitalized than are those born to older mothers.

• Over 1/3 of pregnant teens receive inadequate prenatal care.

• Morbidity and mortality rates are higher for babies born to young mothers.

• Nearly 25% of adolescent mothers have a second child within 24 months of their first child.

• Teenagers with disabilities (developmental, learning, physical) are at an increased risk for early pregnancy.

• Two-thirds of teen mothers have a history of sexual abuse.

• One-quarter of young women report that their first sexual experience was unwanted.

• Three-quarters of all unintended teen pregnancies occur to adolescents using no birth control.

• Research indicates that those individuals who have received sex education are more likely to have their first sexual experience at a later age and use birth control.

• School failure often precedes early pregnancy and childbearing.

What Can Be Done To Help Teens Today?

According to the CDC, teen birth rates reflect the differences in interrelated social and economic factors, such as education, income, the community, and the perceived ideas and attitudes about sex and pregnancy within peer groups. One of the most successful measures today to reduce risky sexual behaviors continues to be approaching teens in the community in a real and honest way, and using positive development strategies designed to improve their behavior and attitudes.

Such as:

1. Increase community awareness of black teen pregnancy disparities.

2. Talk to community, local, state and federal leaders about making teen pregnancy a discussion priority.

3. Identify healthy and constructive activities for  teens to be involved in after school.

4. Have real and honest conversations with teens about the facts about sex and pregnancy.

5. Consider finding successful members of the community who can be mentors to teens.