Childhood Trauma in Cultural Context

Lecture with Gabriel Ruiz, LCPC


Today’s children face enormous challenges resulting in both acute and chronic traumatic effects.  The sources of trauma are myriad: community violence such as gangs, school shootings, and police brutality; war, terrorism, and refugee status; physical and/or sexual abuse; loss of a parent/significant adult;      parental/family violence; chronic neglect; digital/media over exposure, and more. When looking at what trauma “is” and how it is “experienced” we must look at the cultural context of the child and   family.  When it comes to processing trauma, a child’s culture typically falls on a continuum ranging from the traumatic disruption of a child’s individual mind to the disruption of an entire community’s way of life.  As teachers, clinicians, and professionals, what do we do when it is not only the child’s mind, but the child’s entire cultural way of functioning that is overwhelmed by trauma?  Further, how do cultures that privilege a collective mindset mediate childhood trauma when compared to more individualistic  cultures?

This lecture helps identify what type and level of trauma is being experienced by a child and provide a working model of how to begin intervening in a child and family’s life affected by trauma respectful of the child and family’s cultural context.