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Childhood PTSD: The Avoidable Epidemic

Most of the time, I can tune out the tragedies that happen in the lives of the children I work with. Not because I don’t care, but because I know that my pity won’t help them as much as my encouragement will.

But sometimes… I just can’t tune it out. It’s too much too close together, and I finally lose my cool. I get really, really angry with how selfish and destructive humanity can be to its own people.

It’s own tiny people.

Tiny little humans who barely know what the word “trust” means, let alone what it means to have their trust betrayed by their own family member.

Usually, as I go through my days, I try to remember that children are resilient and full of hope. I try to think about how I can coach them through their chaos to give them a better shot at success. I try to be an example of firm but gentle kindness so that they can know there is another way.

But then I get angry that it’s even necessary for me (or any other professional) to have to do that. Their parents should be happy and willing to do these things for them. That’s literally what parents are for.

It’s repulsive to me to know that these kids have to learn how to cope with being beaten, threatened, sex trafficked, manipulated, molested, or starved … all before they’ve finished elementary school.

It’s sickening.


These kids are going through behavior programs because they lash out school. They’re being put in psychiatric facilities because it’s the only way their adoptive families know how to keep them safe. They’re bouncing from foster home to foster home because they learned about sex earlier than they should’ve and now they don’t know how to be appropriate. They’re strung out on nine medications because they can’t get through half a day without having flashbacks about being locked in a room without food or a toilet for three days.

These kids lead entirely different lives than they were intended to because someone wanted more for themselves than they wanted for their child.

I understand there are extenuating circumstances that cause PTSD. Sometimes, parents die in freak accidents, and children are traumatized. Sometimes, kids get cancer. Sometimes houses catch on fire and people get in car wrecks.

I get it. Not all childhood PTSD is avoidable.

I’m talking about the vast majority of PTSD cases, which usually involve the almost 2 million cases of abuse in the U.S. each year.


Annually, just under 2 million children are proven to have experienced some form of abuse at the hands of someone they trusted.

And those are only the cases that have been proven in a court of law. There are another 3.5 million situations that are reported but never proven.

THIS is why children grow up to be psychopaths.

THIS is why people go into service fields that pay like crap.

THIS is why foster care is necessary.

THIS is why children end up medicated out of their minds.

THIS is why people commit suicide before they’re old enough for a driver’s license.

THIS is why social media movements have spread like wildfire to spread awareness and education about what it’s like to be abused.

None of this happens because young people are “sensitive little flowers who just need a good butt whoopin’.” (Actual words that are spoken very often about children with mental illnesses.)

These things happen because children are being abused at an alarming rate by people they love. People who are supposed to love them back. And we almost never catch it until it’s too late.

PTSD in children is a devastatingly tragic epidemic that is almost completely unavoidable. The who are working every day to fight against it are some of the most valuable people in our children’s futures.

So the next time you run into one of those workers, give them a pat on the back and a cup of coffee. And ask them how you can help lower these numbers.

Childhood PTSD: The Avoidable Epidemic



APA Reference
Cummings, W. (2018). Childhood PTSD: The Avoidable Epidemic. Psych Central. Retrieved on January 16, 2019, from


Last updated: 2 Apr 2018
Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 2 Apr 2018
Published on All rights reserved.