The Power of Words to Promote Change

      Data on Children's Mental Health and Trauma

Among a sample of youth in juvenile detention, 93 percent of males and 84 percent of females reported exposure to a traumatic experience. Eleven percent of males and 15 percent of females met the criteria for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). PTSD and other mental health challenges can impair a youth's capacity to reach age-appropriate developmental goals.

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Children and youth who experience trauma display increases in stress hormones comparable to those displayed in combat veterans. Researchers point to multiple potential outcomes for children exposed to trauma, including attachment, mood regulation, dissociation, self-concept challenges, and behavioral, cognition, and biological changes, all of which can have a negative impact on school attendance, learning, and academic achievement.

Suicide and Bullying

Both victims and perpetrators of bullying are at a higher risk for suicide than their peers. Children who are both victims and perpetrators of bullying are at the highest risk (Kim & Leventhal, 2008; Hay & Meldrum, 2010; Kaminski & Fang, 2009). All three groups (victims, perpetrators, and perpetrator/victims) are more likely to be depressed than children who are not involved in bullying (Wang,Nansel et al., in press). Depression is a major risk factor for suicide. Bullying is associated with increases in suicide risk in young people who are victims of bullying (Kim, Leventhal, Koh, & Boyce, 2009) as well as increases in depression and other problems associated with suicide (Gini & Pozzoli, 2009; Fekkes, Pipers, & Verloove-Vanhorcik, 2004).