Traumatic experiences are events or circumstances that threaten one’s life, mental health, or physical well-being. Trauma is the physical and emotional response to those experiences. One in four children endure more than one traumatic experience, and research shows that that can have serious, lifelong effects.

But it doesn’t have to be that way. Research also shows we’re stronger than we know, and that having one or more trusted and caring adults who love, support, and protect kids makes all the difference. As a parent or other close caregiver, you hold the power to change the course of kids’ lives after these experiences.

Traumatic experiences can include:

• emotional, physical, or sexual abuse
• emotional or physical neglect
• a parent’s addiction to drugs or alcohol, or a family member’s mental illness
• seeing violence against one’s mother
• loss of a parent due to death, incarceration, separation, or divorce

These experiences may happen once, or over and over. When they happen over and over, they become part of a child’s world. Then stress stays at a level that’s not healthy.

But there’s good news. There are things that help:

• When parents and other caring adults stay tuned in to kids’ needs and support them with love;
• When kids have family, friends, and neighbors who help;
• When kids and parents have ways to understand, express, share, and manage their feelings;
• When kids have food, shelter, clothing, and health care.

You have the power to help kids feel safe and learn to cope. On this site you’ll find materials and resources to help you do that.

“What is Child Traumatic Stress?” The National Child Traumatic Stress Network.

Felitti, Vincent J, Robert F Anda, Dale Nordenberg, David F Williamson, Alison M Spitz, Valerie Edwards, Mary P Koss, and James S Marks. “Relationship of Childhood Abuse and Household Dysfunction to Many of the Leading Causes of Death in Adults: The Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE) Study.” American Journal of Preventive Medicine 14, no. 4 (1998): 245–58.

“When Things Aren’t Perfect: Caring for Yourself and Your Children.” AAP Trauma Guide. 2014.

“Essentials for Childhood: Steps to Create Safe, Stable, Nurturing Relationships and Environments .” Centers for Disease Control. August 2014.

“Key Concepts: Toxic Stress.” Center for the Developing Child at Harvard University. 2017.