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Wherever primary providers encounter children and families – whether in a clinic, hospital ER, school, or at a private outpatient practice – there are opportunities to integrate trauma-informed practices into the care families receive. Approximately one of every four children in the United States will experience a traumatic event before the age of 16. These events may range from natural disasters to violence and abuse; they may be a one-time occurrence or have happened repeatedly. Although many children who are exposed to trauma do not experience lasting negative effects, others can have difficulty coping. Research has found a significant relationship between exposure to traumatic events and subsequent impairment to children’s neurodevelopmental and immune systems responses. Some may also exhibit health risk behaviors resulting in chronic physical or behavioral health disorders.

Essential Elements

As awareness increases about the effects of traumatic experiences, it has become more important for medical and behavioral health providers to integrate their care for children and families.