Impact of trauma on children leads to never-ending cycle

MEMPHIS, TN (WMC) - Research shows physical changes happen in a child's brain once they experience trauma. It's now believed those changes lay the foundation for other issues later in life that could lead those children to juvenile court.

"If you are traumatized emotionally, physiologically, or in other ways, it's a little harder to tell that that's happened," Dr. Althea Stewart said.

Stewart is the director of the Center for Health in Justice Involved Youth.

Children often internalize the traumatic life changing events, an event that can often lead them to a life of crime and it could become a never-ending cycle. It's not a broken bone or scraped knee, an injury that can be seen.

Every time the child encounters juvenile court, it creates even more trauma.

Stewart said it's a pattern that will continue to be repeated unless someone intervenes.

"Everyone in our community needs to understand that they have a role to play in reducing the impact to our trauma and violence and adverse childhood experiences on the children of Memphis and Shelby County," Stewart said.

That's a role that begins with becoming a mentor to a child in need.

It's something simple that can sometimes reverse the effects of the trauma the child has already experienced and could potentially lead that child down another life path.

Anxiety, change in school performance or friends, appearing guarded or tense are all signs a child may be experiencing the adverse effects of trauma.

To view more resources and to get help, click here.

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