Child Abuse Prevention  

According to the Children’s Bureau 2019 Maltreatment Report, approximately 2 million children received prevention services in 2019. Approximately 1.3 million children received post-response services (such as family preservation, family support, or foster care) because of needs discovered during an investigation or alternative response.

During Federal fiscal year 2019, fewer than one-quarter (22.9 percent) of confirmed maltreatment victims were removed from their homes because of an investigation or alternative response. Child maltreatment has significantly increased since the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic. 

At least 1 out 7 children is a victim of child abuse. The COVID-19 pandemic brought isolation for families across the state of Georgia. This makes it harder for people to recognize and report child neglect.The Georgia Division of Family and Child Services reports the number of child neglect and abuse reports dropped significantly when the pandemic began.  Unfortunately due to the pandemic child abuse may go unreported. Now, the numbers are starting to go back up.

What are the signs to look for?

According to the Child Welfare, signs of child abuse or neglect may include: withdrawal from friends or usual activities,changes in behavior such as aggression, anger, hostility or hyperactivity or changes in school performance. Children may show signs of depression, anxiety or unusual fears, or a sudden loss of self-confidence.An apparent lack of supervision.Frequent absences from school. It is also important to recognize that some children may not exhibit any of these signs, if they are being coached by their parents or guardian. 

How can you help? 

When reporting child abuse or neglect remember that it is not your job to investigate before reporting.If you suspect child abuse or neglect, you can make a report to your local Department of Family and Children Services office. You can make a report via phone, email, online or by fax. To make a report by phone you can call Centralized Intake at 1-855-422-4453. A report can be made 24 hours a day and 7 days a week. To make a report online you can email the completed Mandated Report attached to CPSIntake@DHS.GA.GOV. You will receive an auto-reply stating that the CPS report has been received. You can fax the completed Mandated Report to 229-317-9663. Faxed reports convert to a PDF (Adobe) format and are automatically forwarded to the CPSIntake@DHS.GA.GOV e-mail box.If you are a mandated reporter, you may also submit a child abuse referral online by visiting

HOPE is Here

If you know someone who is struggling with child abuse and would like to refer someone you know, we’d love to speak to you further. HOPE is here. Contact us today.

Did you know that November is National Adoption month? A month set aside to raise awareness about the urgent need for adoptive families for children and youth in foster care.

Here at Georgia HOPE, we work to assist the whole family system and the communities they are in. If you are a foster and adoptive parent, you are ready and willing to make a difference in the lives of children in foster care. More than any thing, children in foster care need parents who are willing to accept them as they are, help them heal, and help them grow.

“Attachment behaviors are necessary in order to create some meaning out of the world around the child, to develop certain emotional attachment in their relationships such as:

  1. It helps child to understand how to relate to others.
  2. It gives a sense of feelings towards one’s own self.”

Subhani, M. I., Osman, A., Abrar, F., & Hasan, S. A. (2014). Are parents really attached to their adopted children?. SpringerPlus3, 545.

Four things kids need from their adoptive parents are:

  1. The feeling of safety that it is not like the child’s previous living situations and that you become a more steady, comforting attachment for them. Some of them had a hard time trusting or lost all trust in adults in their life so it will be your job to show them that you are a safe place for them to lay their head.
  2. Love is very important for parents of any kind. These kids need to feel loved. Love is an action and you are required to take action in showing love to these children. The people who are supposed to love these kids the most are no longer around. So, don’t be fooled into thinking that saying I love you is enough. They have heard it before, and yet here they are in a strange place, with people they don’t know. It will take time. You will need to build trust, and they will test you. They are going to want to be sure that your actions are real, that the love they see in your home is not some phony love that will disappear, only to crush them once again.
  3. Understanding is meeting your children where they are at. Adopted children are coming to you from very difficult situations. You will need to step out of your comfort zone. You may have to deal with behaviors you have never seen before. It will take great understanding on your part. They desperately want you to just “get” them, and you will need to meet them where they are, with a nurturing and loving heart.
  4. Persistence is continuing to be there for your children. Adopted kids have lost their family. They have lost their mom and their dad, but they do have you. And you will have to be persistent. You will need to be their strongest advocate.”

How to build acceptance:

  • Build their self-esteem
    • Say “You did it!” instead of “Good job!” Phrases such as “you did it!” build a child’s self-esteem intrinsically. These terms hold more value to children and build their self-esteem within rather than using extrinsic rewards. The phrase “good job” and others like it keep children constantly looking for the approval of adults.
  • Be curious about what you see and the process.
    • For example, try saying “I see you used a lot of blue in your picture,” or “It looks like it really makes you happy,” and asking questions like “How did you make it?” Because children are constantly looking for the approval of adults, we want them to focus on their ideas and feelings rather than doing things to please others. Try asking a child: “Do YOU like it?”
  • Show warmth and empathy
    • When dealing with disappointments, be truthful with children, yet use empathy to show that you still love and care about them – no matter what. For example, if your child doesn’t make the soccer team, avoid saying something like, “Well, next time you’ll work harder and make it.” Instead, try, “Well, you didn’t make the team, but I’m really proud of the effort you put into it,” or, “It took courage to try-out, and I like that about you.”
  • Bust inaccurate views
    • When experiencing frustration, some children may be quick to make cognitive generalizations about themselves such as “I’m a bad at school.” As adults, we have the capacity to help children realize the inaccuracies of these statements and view things more objectively using reason. For example, you might say, “You are a good student. You do great in school and your teachers really like having you in class. Math is a subject that you need to spend more time on. So, we’ll work on that together.”
  • Reduce conflict at home
    • Children who are exposed to conflict at home, or high-conflict divorces are at-risk to internalize a sense of guilt. In addition, the child may develop a pattern of thinking that they have no control over their environment and begin to feel helpless. As a parent or caregiver, if you are finding that you have a tendency to be harsh on yourself, or pessimistic about your abilities, your kids might eventually mirror your attitude. By paying attention to your mental health and taking the steps necessary to nurture your own self-esteem you will become a positive role model for your child.
  • Counseling
    • Georgia HOPE offers a variety of services for families and individuals, children and adults for counseling and mental health services as well as family preservation services. We also offer free community support groups, HOPE Happenings, including Support for Foster Parents, Youth Hang Outs, Support for Teens, Support for Parents and Grandparents, to learn more about our groups, click here.
    • If you’re interested in taking the next step with us, enroll here or contact us to learn more.
virtual learning

There’s a new urgency to explore online educational tools and best practices because of the coronavirus pandemic for virtual learning. This is a “new normal” for everyone and really there’s nothing about all of this virtual schooling during a pandemic crisis that is “normal.” We’ve put together 6 helpful tips to help engage your kids with virtual, online learning.

6 tips to help engage kids with virtual learning:

1. Setting Up a Good Routine is Key

Without the same need to get ready for a normal school day, and with everyone being home all the time (for the most part), it’s all too easy to let go what used to be normal routines. But having a routine is helpful for kids. Come up with a routine and stick to it, including a time for going to bed and getting up in the morning, breakfast, snack time and other meals, free play, outdoor activities, etc. The daily routine doesn’t have to be the same as it was during the pre-COVID school year, but it needs to be regular and you have to stick to it. This is really important for kids of all ages.

2. Setting up Devices & Space for Virtual Learning

Your child needs a computer or type of laptop / good tablet for virtual leaning. A phone isn’t the right tool for online learning. If providing a computer / good tablet is an issue for your family, contact your school because the school district is responsible for ensuring students who need equipment get it. But there is also the matter of internet access. Not every household has a reliable internet connection available. Again, if this is an issue for your household, contact your school to see what’s possible. There have been a lot of creative workarounds to these issues, so it’s likely a solution can be found.

As for the “space” where learning will take place. Put a little design effort into creating the right virtual education site in your home. Lying in bed or on the couch with a laptop or tablet is not sustainable or productive. Your child needs to sit comfortably and upright in a supportive chair with their device in front of them. We’ve seen some pretty creative ideas like the ones below of creating virtual learning “pods” in the home. 



















3. Creating Online Safety 

Kids at home with virtual learning are spending a lot of time on the internet. This puts them at even greater risk or all kinds of online problems, including cyber bullying and harassment, sexual predation and exposure to pornography,  fraud and identity theft, or getting hacked. As parents, you should have access to all their different online accounts, meaning you have their login credentials and can go in and actively monitor who they’re connected with and what kinds of interactions they are having online. Talk to them about why this is important and how they should always immediately come to you for anything.

4. Maintaining Focus & Motivation 

Kids may be feeling “down” during this “new normal” of virtual learning. Kids miss being with other kids and their friends, school, sports, etc. It may be hard to feel motivated for online learning and to focus with all of these feelings and changes. Plus there’s even more distractions at home and online learning. 

You can help your kids maintain focus and motivation during online learning hours by once again creating a routine, monitoring cellphone and technology usage outside of online learning, and promoting positive attitudes around the house as much as possible.

5. Creating Interaction 

For creating interaction, you can set up virtual playdates or online group homework or study-buddy sessions. Set up playdates outside at the park with small groups. Peer interaction is a valuable benefit some finding ways to incorporate that weekly is important. 

6. Monitoring  Online Learning

Nothing about all of this virtual schooling during a pandemic crisis is normal for anyone. The most important thing you can do is monitor how your kids are doing with this new form of education. Observe them. See how engaged they are. Are they taking notes? Are they asking questions? Are they sad? Are they angry? Are they just zoning out? Identify the hang-ups and challenges and then think about what you can do to help them through those. It’s not normal and everyone has a little more stress right now. It’s important to be flexible and forgiving, and as always HOPE is here.

Georgia HOPE specializes in providing quality mental health services for children, adults, individuals and families in the state of Georgia. To learn more, enroll, or refer someone to us, contact us below:



Anxiety can take place in many forms for children whether it is social anxiety, separation anxiety, or general anxieties. When childhood anxiety is heightened, it’s natural for parents and caregivers to go into protection mode. The best thing for parents and caregivers to do is to help their children learn to manage anxiety.

Here’s 6 Ways to Help Your Child Learn to Manage Their Anxiety:

1. Set Clear Expectations.

It’s important to have similar expectations for anxious children that you have for non-anxious children but it can be helpful to go at a little slower pace and make some accommodations. While you’re one child may want to attend every birthday party, your anxious child may want to avoid big birthday parties.  Setting clear expectations and helping your child create appropriate benchmarks like going to smaller birthday parties or birthday parties without big triggers like a bounce house or swimming pool. This will help create expectations and teach your child that she/he can work through anxious feelings and manage their anxiety with baby steps without completely missing out. 

2. Let Your Child Worry.

Don’t just say to your child “Don’t Worry!” or “Relax!” This doesn’t help them stop to worry. Instead, provide a listening here and allow your child to vent to you and brainstorm solutions together. 

3. Don’t Avoid the Anxiety.

Just like telling your child not to worry won’t make those anxious thoughts disappear, avoiding triggers of anxiety won’t help your child learn to cope. If your child becomes anxious around water for example, keeping your child completely away from pools, lakes, the ocean, the bath, etc will only validate the anxious thought. It sends the message that water in fact is danger. It’s better to help desensitize the triggers by taking small steps. Try looking at pictures of the ocean and talking about what triggers the feeling of anxiety. Next, go to a park with a pond and take a way around it. Finally, visit a pool or sit in the bath together with some toys to know that it’s okay. By taking small steps, kids can learn to work through their anxiety and find ways to cope.  

4. Help Them Build a Way to Cope.

One thing that helps anxious kids is having a list of ways to cope to use in a moment of anxiety. Here’s some examples you can practice together: 

  • Deep breathing
  • Stress ball
  • Write it out
  • Talking it out 
  • Counting to 10 

5. Get Back to Basics.

Your anxious child doesn’t need to play every sport and attend every birthday party, but they do need the basic health and social needs like:

  • Good sleep
  • Healthy meals & plenty of water
  • Downtime to decompress
  • Outdoor free play
  • Daily exercise (taking a walk, riding bikes, playing at the park, etc.)

6. Empathize Often.

Anxiety is tough for anyone, especially young kids. When kids feel overwhelmed by anxious thoughts, they can struggle to do everyday things like go to school or band practice. Anxiety in children can even cause them to avoid fun things like playdates with friends. It’s important to empathize and provide emotional support to your child. This normalizes what they are experiencing and helps them understand that they aren’t alone, and you will be there with them through it.

Reminder: Take Care of Yourself Too.

Parenting an anxious child can be emotionally draining and all-consuming. Between interrupted sleep and constant worries, child anxiety can take a toll on the parents and caregivers. Make sure to prioritize your own health needs so that you have the energy you need to help your child through this difficult time.

HOPE is Here.

As a reminder, you never have to suffer alone. There are resources available for you.

Georgia HOPE specializes in providing quality mental health services for children, adults, individuals and families in the state of Georgia. To learn more, enroll, or refer someone to us, contact us below:

Other Resources Available: 

  • National Suicide Prevention Hotline: 1-800-273-TALK (8255)
  • Georgia Crisis & Access Line: 1-800-715-4225
  • GMHCN Warm Line: 888-945-1414
  • CARES: 844-326-5400, Call or Text 8:30AM-11:00PM for Substance Use Crisis Text Line: 741-741



covid blog

COVID-19 as a Trauma/Stress Event

This event has been experienced on a spectrum of “it doesn’t seem like it will impact us” to feeling overwhelmed, frozen or irritated, and not knowing what may happen next.

  • Previous Trauma (i.e. abuse, neglect, violence) can be exacerbated
  • Typical Stressors (i.e. falling behind in school, financial stress/food, regular schoolwork/tests, home stress) can all get worse during the pandemic
  • New Stressors (i.e. wearing a mask, washing hands, worrying about getting sick) surface

How We Might be Feeling Now

We may find ourselves feeling more agitated, easily annoyed or frustrated. Being in lockdown and having a worldwide presence of Covid-19 has left us feeling threatened. We can’t flee the danger so we may be revving up to fight or flat and begin to shut down.

Now things are changing again as we go back to school. Possible feelings for children, teachers and parents about returning to school:

  • Anxious or nervous
  • Afraid of the unknown
  • Reluctant to return
  • Poor sleep
  • Physically not feeing well (tummy or headaches)
  • Poor concentration and distractibility
  • Regression
  • Mood swings

How Can Schools in 2020 Be Trauma Sensitive?

  • There are many things educator, staff, parents and counselors can do to support children who have experienced trauma and help them to cope better at school.
  • Social connectedness – the biggest buffer in times of stress and distress. We can stay physically distant but emotionally close
  • Self-care – helping children learn to do this through modeling and education
  • A safe, predictable, supportive and consistent environment – create this in your environment. You can be the most important contribution for the child’s ability to learn to trust the world again, and enhance their capacity for resiliency
  • Checking in with students when they arrive in your classroom
  • Not expecting “calm” as this would be unrealistic of the children and ourselves. Be realistic about what will be achieved as many of us are in survival mode.
  • Be the thermostat, not the thermometer, for your classroom. Set the tone for your class and not let the class set your tone.

We Need to Put Our Own Oxygen Masks On First

Think of what the flight attendants say on a plane. They remind adult to put their own oxygen masks on before helping children or others around them.

Self-care needs to be a priority. We are no use to those around us if we are “unconscious”

What might self-care look like?

  • Doing an activity you like
  • Taking care of your physical and mental health

Other Ideas

  • Try and find ways to incorporate the whole brain throughout the day (rational thinking, emotions, and decision making)
  • Help regulate yourself and your students by encouraging reading, playing boardgames or learning opportunities
  • Help regulate yourself and your students by creating something or connecting with someone special in your life
  • Help regulate yourself and your students by moving your body around and doing exercise, body breaks or stretching

Ways to Minimize Covid-19’s Imprint in Our Lives

  • Predictability – try to have a routine and things to look forward to
  • Get Moving – feeling trapped increases our fight response
  • Connection – isolation is unnatural for humans. Reach out to friends, family or counselors
  • Numbing Out – often we try to numb out to keep safe, but we need to feel safe for our bodies to heal. Try becoming aware of yourself with loving kindness and compassion
  • Sense of Future – it can feel like this is will last forever. Try breathing or mindfulness to help get a sense of time
  • Sense of Safety – find ways to feel safe again. Listen to music, have private time and reach out if you are unsafe at home

Use of Zones of Regulation

The Zones of Regulation is a framework designed to foster self-regulation and emotional control (Kuypers). It is an effective way of identifying how we are feeling and functioning. It can also be used as a way to check-in with children and ourselves. We need to be in our green zone to in order to learn effectively. It is helpful to identify what we can do to support ourselves depending which zones we find ourselves in.

What are the Zones of Regulation?

Blue Zone (rest area)

  • Sad, sick, tired, board, moving slowly
  • To support myself: talk to your friends and maybe they can cheer you up

Green Zone (go)

  • Happy, calm, feeling okay, focused, ready to learn
  • To support myself: keep having a positive mindset

Yellow Zone (slow)

  • Frustrated, worried, silly/wiggly, excited, loss of some control
  • To support myself: try not to worry and go talk to someone to get it off your chest

Red Zone (stop)

  • Mad/angry, mean, terrified, hitting/yelling, out of control
  • To support myself: walk around or get a drink

For more resources on recognizing and preventing child abuse, neglect and mental health symptoms in a virtual classroom, click here.

If you have questions or would like to enroll in our services or make a referral:


Content Developed by:

  • Christine Clark, MAMFT, LPC, NCC
  • Anna Fortune, LPC, CPCS
elementary school

Suicide in Elementary Aged Children (5-11)

Did you know that suicide occurs with all ages, even elementary age children?

Suicide is Preventable: Ask, Listen & Tell. Together, there is HOPE.


In 2014, The CDC ranked suicide as the 10th cause of death for US elementary school–aged children. Suicide occurs at a rate of 0.17 per 100,000 persons in youth between the ages of 5 and 11 years, in contrast to a rate of 5.18 per 100,000 among adolescents aged 12 to 17 years (Sheftall et al., 2016).

-In a study gathering data from Emergency Room Department visits found in the National Hospital Ambulatory Medical Care Survey (NHAMCS) ED database from 2007 to 2015, it was found there were 59, 921 unweighted ED visits for children younger than 18 years in the NHAMCS, among which 1,613 met the inclusion criteria for visits due to suicide attempts or suicide ideation. Also of note, 43.1% of suicide attempt or suicidal ideation visits were for children aged 5 to younger than 11 years and only 2.1% were hospitalized (Burstein et al., 2019).

How? Where? Why?

2016 study by the Official Journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics found:

  • Suicide by ages 5-11 often occurred by hanging, strangulation, or suffocation in their home
  • Commonly experienced relationship problems with friends and family
  • 1/3 of the sample experienced a type of mental health struggle, with the most common being ADHD (Sheftall et al., 2016).

Risk Factors

  • Emotional distress
  • Exposure to violence
  • Family conflict
  • Relationship problems
  • Lck of connectedness to school/sense of supportive school environment
  • Alcohol and drug use
  • Physical disabilities/learning differences
  • Lack of access to resources/support

(Violence Prevention, 2018).

How to Help


How to Help Educators

  • Talk with the student and let them know you care
  • Incorporate lessons on social skills and problem solving in the classroom
  • Help the student partner or play with supportive peers
  • Collaborate with parents/guardians and the school counselor to provide extra support for the student
  • Create a supportive and welcoming classroom (Violence Prevention, 2018)

How to Help Parents/Guardians

  • Talk with your child and let them know you care
  • Be observant of behavior/mood changes
  • Talk with your pediatrician yearly for early screenings of suicide
  • Identify your child’s strengths
  • Take your child for a walk or to play with other neighborhood children
  • Play, read, watch a movie, listen to music, or do crafts with your child
  • Ensure that your child is eating nutritious meals, getting adequate exercise, and sleeping well
  • Monitor your child’s intake of news, social media, TV, newspapers, and other media or conversations that can increase stress by communicating about disasters or traumatic current events
  • Obtain extra support from local mental health professionals and the school counselor for your child (Violence Prevention, 2018)


Resources Available:

As a reminder, you never have to suffer alone. There are resources available for you.

National Suicide Prevention Hotline: 1-800-273-TALK (8255)

Georgia Crisis & Access Line: 1-800-715-4225

GMHCN Warm Line: 888-945-1414

CARES: 844-326-5400, Call or Text 8:30AM-11:00PM for Substance Use Crisis Text Line: 741-741

Georgia HOPE

  • Call: 706-279-0405 Ext. 149
  • Text: 706-847-4871
  • Email:
  • Visit:
  • Contact Us Online

American Foundation for Suicide Preventions:

Suicide Prevention Resource Center:




  • Preventing Suicide. (2019, September 5). Retrieved April 1, 2020, from
  • State Fact Sheets. (2019, October 11). Retrieved April 3, 2020, from
  • Suicide Prevention. (2019, July). Retrieved April 2, 2020, from
  • Suicide Statistics. (2019, April 16). Retrieved April 3, 2020, from suicide-statistics/


high schoolers

Suicide is Preventable: Ask, Listen & Tell. Together, there is HOPE.


Suicide is the 2nd leading cause of death for ages 12-22 (Suicide, n.d.; WISQARS Leading Causes of Death Reports, n.d.)

“In 2017, there were 47 percent more suicides among people aged 15 to 19 than in the year 2000” (Frazee & Morales, 2019).

Suicide rates for males and females have been spiking since 2014 and 2009, respectively (Frazee & Morales, 2019)

Risk Factors

  • Mental illness/psychiatric diagnosis
  • Family history of suicide and/or exposure to suicide
  • Family history of mental illness
  • Physical/sexual abuse
  • Losses
  • Aggressive behavior/impulsivity
  • Lack of social support/social isolation
  • Poor coping skills
  • Access to ways of harming oneself, like guns, knives, etc.
  • Difficulties in dealing with sexual orientation
  • Physical illness
  • Family disruptions (divorce or problems with the law)
  • Traumatic event (Suicide in Teens and Children Symptoms & Causes: Boston Children’s Hospital, n.d.)

warning signs

Warning Signs

  • Preoccupation with death (e.g.,recurring themes of death or self-destruction in artwork or written assignments
  • Intense sadness and/or hopelessness
  • Not caring about activities that used to matter
  • Social withdrawal from family, friends, sports, social activities
  • Substance abuse
  • Sleep disturbance (either not sleeping or staying awake all night)
  • Giving away possessions
  • Risky behavior
  • Lack of energy
  • Inability to think clearly/concentration problems
  • Declining school performance/increase absences from school
  • Increased irritability
  • Changes in appetite (Suicide in Teens and Children Symptoms & Causes: Boston Children’s Hospital, n.d.)

how to cope

How to Cope

  • Talk with a friend, teacher, guardian, or counselor
  • Play a game
  • Take a nap
  • Take a walk
  • Eat a snack or a meal
  • Exercise
  • Help somebody
  • Read a book
  • Listen to music
  • Watch a movie or TV
  • Spend time with friends
  • Monitor social media, news, and TV (Violence Prevention, 2018)


How to Help

Common reasons for suicide are emotional pain, hopelessness, and wanting the pain to go away (Home, 2020). You can help by:

  • Asking: “I’m wondering if you have had thoughts of killing yourself, hurting yourself, dying, or falling asleep and not waking up?”
  • Talking with your child or friend and let them know you care
  • Being observant of behavior/mood changes
  • Spending time with your child or friend by playing a game, reading, listening to music, or creating art
  • Monitoring your child’s intake of news, social media, TV, newspapers, and other media or conversations that can increase stress by communicating about disasters or traumatic current events
  • Obtaining extra support from local mental health professionals and the school counselor for your child or friend (Violence Prevention, 2018)

Resources Available

As a reminder, you never have to suffer alone. There are resources available for you.

National Suicide Prevention Hotline: 1-800-273-TALK (8255)

Georgia Crisis & Access Line: 1-800-715-4225

GMHCN Warm Line: 888-945-1414

CARES: 844-326-5400, Call or Text 8:30AM-11:00PM for Substance Use Crisis Text Line: 741-741

Georgia HOPE

  • Call: 706-279-0405 Ext. 149
  • Text: 706-847-4871
  • Email:
  • Visit:
  • Contact Us Online

American Foundation for Suicide Preventions:

Suicide Prevention Resource Center:




  • Preventing Suicide. (2019, September 5). Retrieved April 1, 2020, from

  • State Fact Sheets. (2019, October 11). Retrieved April 3, 2020, from

  • Suicide Prevention. (2019, July). Retrieved April 2, 2020, from

  • Suicide Statistics. (2019, April 16). Retrieved April 3, 2020, from suicide-statistics/

Georgia HOPE is currently providing Mental Health and Substance Use services throughout the state of Georgia via TeleMental Health for children, adults, individuals and families. If you, your child, or someone you know, are interested in services, you can submit a referral online to us or call 706-279-0405.

If you’re interested in learning more about our services, please contact us here.


What Is a Traumatic Event?

A traumatic event is a scary, dangerous, or violent event that possess a threat to a child’s life. Witnessing a traumatic event that threatens life or physical security of a loved one can also be traumatic. This is particularly important for young children as their sense of safety depends on the perceived safety of those around them.

Traumatic experiences can bring out strong emotions and physical reactions that can persist long after the event. Children may feel scared, helpless or overwhelmed.

Even though adults work hard to keep children safe, dangerous events still happen. This danger can come from outside of the family (such as a natural disaster, car accident, school shooting, or community violence) or from within the family, such as domestic violence, physical or sexual abuse, or the unexpected death of a loved one.

What Experiences Might Be Traumatic?

  • Bullying
  • Family or community violence
  • Physical, sexual, or psychological abuse and neglect
  • Natural and technological disasters
  • Sudden or violent loss of a loved one
  • Serious accidents or life-threatening illness
  • Military family-related stressors (e.g., deployment, parental loss or injury)

Prevalence of Traumatic Exposure & Symptoms

In a nationally representative survey of 12- to 17-year-old youth, 8 percent reported a lifetime prevalence of sexual assault, 17 percent reported physical assault, and 39 percent reported witnessing violence. Among 536 elementary and middle school children surveyed in an inner city community, 30 percent had witnessed a stabbing and 26 percent had witnessed a shooting Among middle and junior high school students in an urban school system, 41 percent reported witnessing a stabbing or shooting in the past year. (source)

In a community sample of older adolescents, 14.5 percent of those who had experienced a serious trauma developed PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder). A recent review of research on children exposed to specific traumas found wide ranges in rates of PTSD: 20 percent to 63 percent in survivors of child maltreatment, 12 percent to 53 percent in the medically ill. 5 percent to 95 percent in disaster survivors. Based upon data from a variety of sources, a conservative annual cost of child abuse and neglect is an estimated $103.8 billion, or $284.3 million per day (in 2007 values).

Things to look for with traumatized kids:

  • Anxiety, fear & worry about safety and others
  • Changes in behavior
  • Discomfort with or avoiding feelings
  • Trouble with trust and perceptions of others
  • Over- or under-reacting to bells, physical contact, doors slamming,
  • sirens, sudden movements
  • Repetitive thoughts and comments about death or dying
  • Heightened difficulty with authority, redirection, or criticism

Things to Remember with Traumatized Kids :

  • Be aware of BOTH those youth who act out AND those who are quiet.
  • Anniversaries of the event or media reports may act as reminders to
    the adolescent, causing a recurrence of symptoms, feelings, and

The Importance of Relationships:

“Trauma and our response to it cannot be understood outside the context of human relationships. Whether people have survived an earthquake or have been repeatedly sexually abused, what matters most is how those experiences affect their relationships – to their loved ones, to themselves and to the world….As a result, recovery from trauma and neglect is also all about relationships – rebuilding trust, regaining confidence, returning to a sense of security and reconnecting to love….Healing and recovery are impossible – even with the best
medications and therapy in the world – without lasting, caring connections to others.” – Bruce Perry (The Boy Who was Raised as a Dog, pp. 231-232, emphasis added)

Things to Remember:

  • Healing from trauma is best done in the context of relationships.
  • So the best thing you can do is to be there, listen, and support them.
  • Take care of yourself!
  • If you notice that you feel overwhelmed or triggered by what you’re hearing,
    ask for help!
  • Don’t try to do it all on your own.
  • Referrals to professionals can be helpful supplements to the relationships you
    have with these youth.
  • Take a break!

What Resources Are Available?

Trauma is real but it doesn’t have to secure a child’s fate.

Resources available in Georgia

  • Community-based counseling
    • Community Service Boards (CSB)
    • Private Providers (i.e. Georgia HOPE)
    • Care Management Entities (CME)
    • Types: CORE, DFCS-contracted, IFI, wrap-around
  • Private Practice Providers
  • Child Advocacy Centers
  • Psychiatrists, Nurse Practitioners
  • Medical Doctors (Pediatricians)

Example of Community Interventions – Special Programs at Georgia HOPE:

Types of Services

  • Individual Counseling
  • Family Counseling
  • Group Counseling
  • Individual Skills-building (i.e., CSI)
  • Parent Training
  • Medication Management
  • Certified Peer Specialist (CPS)

Great Resources Available to You:

Georgia HOPE is here for you and your family during, always. Whether it’s providing tips through our blog and social media channels or online family therapy. If there is anything we can do to help you and your family, please feel free to reach out to us! HOPE is here.

April is Child Abuse Prevention (CAP) Month, a time to act together to raise awareness and empower people across the nation to play a role in making great childhoods happen. In a time of physical distancing, we encourage you to keep the messages of child abuse prevention month strong in alternative ways as well as connecting with one another through positive messages, virtual hugs, text, FaceTime, and even to just offer emotional support is important during these times.  

Here’s some great resources to get involved and take a stand for child abuse prevention month:

What’s the Blue Pinwheel? 

Pinwheels for Prevention

Pinwheels for Prevention® is a national public awareness campaign during Child Abuse Prevention Month (CAP Month) every April, designed by Prevent Child Abuse America to communicate efforts and change the way states think about prevention. Prevent Child Abuse Georgia (PCA GA) encourages community activities and the support of public policies that prioritize healthy child development and child abuse prevention right from the start!

The classic blue and silver Pinwheels for Prevention® are available for purchase through PCA Georgia’s online store. You can download a pinwheel coloring sheet that is great for children of all ages. For older children, download instructions on how to make your own paper pinwheel

Did you know Georgia HOPE mental health and substance use services are available even during COVID-19?

We are offering several different types of groups for children, adolescents, and adults via TeleMental Health.

If you or your child is experiencing sadness, anger, frustration, anxiety, or any other mental health symptoms, please know that there is help. Simply contact Georgia HOPE at (706) 279-0405 or