• Child Neglect and PTSD


    Friends and relatives who knew Gisella Ford described her as a smart, respectful, and  mature eight-year-old. She died from multiple injuries from abuse and neglect, inflicted at the hands of relatives. And although she was surrounded by family, Gisella was neglected so badly that at the time of her death, maggots were found infesting an injury in her scalp (Read more here).

    Unfortunately, Gisella’s tragic story represents just one of thousands in our nation.

    In 2006 in the U.S., approximately 905,000 children were found to have been abused, and 66% of them were neglected.

    Interpersonal victimization is the most prevalent cause of child abuse–abuse committed at the hands of family and friends–and includes physical abuse, sexual abuse, exposure to domestic violence, and living in households where the chaos of drug and alcohol abuse disrupt the norms of healthy living.

    Children who have been exposed to abuse and neglect will often develop post-traumatic stress disorder that will influence them for years, if not for life.

    According to an August 23, 2011 article in MedScape, these children face trauma that threatens their integrity, safety, or even life.  “The support of a child’s family, along with adequate coping and emotional functioning of the child’s parents, may very well mitigate against the development of PTSD in a child exposed to trauma.”

    The degree of trauma experienced by the child is influenced by

    1. the cause of the trauma
    2. the number of traumatic experiences that occur over time
    3. the degree of the physical effect for both the short and long-term
    4. the frequency of additional disruptive events

    For this reason, children (adults as well) process traumatic events in different ways.

    If you have concerns that a child may be suffering from neglect or abuse, look for the following symptoms or factors:

    1. The child has been exposed to a life-threatening, fearful, or horrifying circumstance.
    2. The child is re-experiencing the event through flashbacks or nightmares.
    3. The child avoids circumstances or stimuli associated with the trauma.
    4. The child “numbs out” emotionally.
    5. The child has a diminished interest in activities.
    6. The child has a sense of doom or belief that they will not live to grow up.
    7. The child has difficulty sleeping.
    8. The child is hyper vigilant or has an increased startle response.
    9. The child has physical symptoms, such as nausea or stomach aches.

    The good news is that early intervention and treatment are helpful for children who experience trauma, according to Dr. Beth Robinson, child psychologist and traumatologist.

    If you suspect a child is experiencing neglect or abuse, take appropriate steps to investigate or report. If you are the parent or guardian, don’t hesitate to seek professional help from a physician or licensed counselor.



4 Responsesso far.

  1. James Halstrum says:

    Please SHARE this WITH appropriate OTHERS.

    “One example of the principles and practice of Self Help”
    “The Therapeutic Process”
    + Regarding Reoccurring Negative Dreams and Flashbacks.


    A father and son, living on the West coast of Canada ( in the Vancouver area ), loved to go sailing between the mainland and Vancouver Island. The father, over the years, had
    upgraded from a small boat to a larger sail boat and the son was intending to follow his example, but, at the time of this example the son only had a small boat.

    One day the son went for a sail in his boat and a major storm came up which caused his boat to capsize. The son drowned on that day and his body was never recovered.

    As result, the father kept having a reoccurring dream regarding the loss of his son and the lack of closure. ( no funeral for closure because the son’s body was never recovered )

    In the dream the father would go out in his sail boat to where his son had drowned and he would dive over the side and swim down to the bottom. When he would get to the bottom he would find a treasure chest and when he opened it up it would, always, be empty.
    ( it can be said that the father treasured his son )

    At that time, I was a co-facilitator of a therapeutic group in which the father ( as a participant ) told the story of his reoccurring dream and to address the problem the following potential solution was proposed to him.

    Write up his story including his emotions, feelings, appreciations, anger, resentments, positives and negatives of the relationship with his son and with his death, etc.
    Buy a small tree ( hopefully his sons favourite kind of tree).
    Take the write up, the tree and some pictures of his son ( + small personal objects / reminders of his son ) and take them to his son’s favourite place.

    NOTE: His son’s favourite place was up on a forested knoll over looking Horse Shoe Bay on the North Shore of Vancouver where he could see the marina that he and his father used to dock their sail boats.

    The father was to take the write up, the tree, the pictures and the personal
    objects to the knoll.
    Dig a hole for the tree / then read your write up ALOUD..
    Set fire to the papers ( write up ) pictures and personal items.
    Let the smoke go up into the air, the ashes and personal items fall into the hole.
    Plant the tree over them. ( burying them and the problem in order to gain closure )

    The father never had the reoccurring dream again…

    NOTE: People and their family members can, by using these principles and practices, gain closure in relation to various kinds of personal and family issues = loss of a loved one, abuse, addiction, PTSD ( especially reoccurring dreams ), suicide prevention, anger management, beginnings and endings, unfinished business, closure, etc.

    Some guidelines:

    Use your own imagination and creativity when you apply
    these principles and practices to your own personal + family issues.
    This can be done alone and/or with others who can appreciate their attendance
    and find value in the process.

    NOTE: This therapeutic process can stand alone and/or be an addition to
    existing individual or group therapy programs.

    Helpful hints:

    1. You can bury and get over your own personal / family issues and start an anger free life.
    2. Planting ( a living memorial, a bush, shrub or a crop ) represents hope for the future.
    3. “The obstacles in life, often, become precisely what is required”…

    Warm Regards, to family members dealing with the loss of a loved one(s) and related family issues ( past, present and future ).

    Author James L. Halstrum ( The Stone Shadow )
    P.O.Box 1326 Montague, PEI C0A-1R0 + Phone 902-838-2218

    Note: If this helps and/or saves the life of one person, I’ll be pleased.

  2. Jame Halstrum says:

    Two good friends got summer jobs at a convenience store. These two girls were such good friends, they were like sisters – always together in one way or another (in person/on the phone/texting/emailing). It hardly seemed like work when the two shared the same shift!

    One afternoon, a young man came into the store looking for a certain brand of cigarettes. He did not initially look suspicious – except for the long leather jacket and gloves he was wearing; it was a cloudless 30 degree afternoon in the middle of summer!

    It turned out that the particular brand of cigarettes was no longer being produced and the store did not have any more to sell. As per protocol, the girls explained this to the customer and suggested another kind. This did not go over well with the customer; he began to yell and throw things around the store. When one of the girls tried to calm the man, he pulled out a gun from one of the many pockets in his jacket and pointed it at one of the girls’ head. Before the other girl was able to activate the soundless panic alarm, the irate customer spontaneously pulled the trigger; his hostage crumpled to the ground instantly.

    When the police got to the store to investigate the shooting, they encountered one teenage girl sobbing over the lifeless form of another. “It’s all my fault!” she cried, “I should have hit the panic button earlier. Now look, my best friend in the entire world is dead.”

    As the days progressed, the girl became more and more silent and kept to herself; her face was devoid of colour and the bright smile that once shone on her face – the faces of the two best friends. She refused to eat or care for herself; there was not a night that she did not have horrendous nightmares of being attacked herself or of experiencing the hostage situation over and over again and watching her bff be shot dead by a single bullet.

    When her parents finally got her in to see a counsellor, the girl was encouraged to write out the events of that day in as much detail as she could; she was then instructed to read it over and over again until it no longer evoked the tears and anger that it initially did. When she could do this, her therapist then asked her to compose an email for her friend as if she were alive and well; in it, she was to express everything she felt about what had happened at the store: her guilt/sadness/fear/anger/etc. Once she composed and “sent” it, the girl was instructed to write the response that she envisioned that her friend would compose: how would she respond? Would she cast blame on her friend? Would she criticize her friend for her actions/lack thereof?
    Once this task was completed, the girl felt a sense of relief like no other. She was then able to open up to others about the incident and talk freely about the awesomeness of her friend. She began caring for herself – indulging in the manicures and pedicures and deep hair conditioning that she and her friend used to do. Remarkably, the nightmares and the flashbacks never returned.

    • admin says:

      Thank you once again for sending along this recommendation. Of course, we suggest that individuals who may be suffering from trauma always institute therapeutic approaches under the care of trained professionals. We greatly appreciate hearing about treatments that have worked for others.

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