Webinar presenter Duane Bowers answered a number of your questions after his presentation, The Impact of Trauma on Child Development: What Justice Professionals Need to Know. Here are just a few of his responses.
Audience Question: Are prenatal babies impacted from the trauma that the mother experiences in the second trimester?
Duane Bowers: Yes, though not to the degree that it is in the third trimester. In the third trimester, they are nearly fully formed. It is the brain that we are looking at particularly here. The brain is far more formed in the third trimester than the second. The impact of trauma is going to be stronger in the third. But yes, there is an impact from mom’s trauma in the second semester. I don’t have a reference. There’s my website and you can connect to me through my website. Send me that question. I might be able to find information on second trimester for you.
Audience Question: We also have at least one prosecutor on the phone that is asking if you could share some of the references and resources for some of the facts that you talked about the evidence that children suffer more from witnessing trauma than an object of the trauma. If we can work together after the webinar to get whatever information you might have available, resources I can post that to the course page if that works for you.
Duane Bowers: Okay I have a 14-page reference list. I do lots of different seminars. I don’t have the separate lists for the different webinars. I have a 14-page reference list. Everything I present has been backed up and researched. Yes, I’ll make that available.
Audience Question: What percentage of children do you think go through trauma but grow up normally as if they have never experienced them?
Duane Bowers: We can talk an hour on that. Even if on the outside, even if their behavior is not affected, there still is a traumatic response going on. In other words, they are still triggered. They are still having cortisol responses they just may have learned coping mechanisms that help to mask them, help to hide them. I think that’s really a hard one to measure and I don’t have the statistic. I’m not trying to tap dance around the answer. I don’t have the statistics. I think it would be really hard to come up with one because what does it mean to not show that you had trauma? Are you looking at brain development? Are you looking at hormonal responses well? Are you just looking at behavior that they exhibit on the outside? I know I got off your question. I don’t have a statistic for the number of children that can behave in a normal way who were traumatized. I don’t know.
Audience Question: Our question comes in from Amanda and she’s asking whether or not prenatal trauma may be one cause in babies being lost during pregnancy?
Duane Bowers: I have to tell you that the research I do is all trauma-based not so much on pregnancy so I have not seen an answer to that question in the information that I have but if you look at the reference list that I’m making available and you look at some of those references to prenatal you may find the answer in some of those references.
Audience Question: Does a child witnessing abuse of an animal have the same effect as witnessing the abuse of a human?
Duane Bowers: Yes and particularly if that animal has a meaning or value to that child. So that would be much like community violence. If a child sees a fight going on between people and a kid getting beat up, it’s going to have a traumatic response to that. If the kid getting beat up is their brother, they’re going to have a stronger traumatic response. If they see kids torturing a bunny rabbit, yes, they are going to have a response to that but if that bunny rabbit is their pet, absolutely stronger response. The answer is yes. The degree to which they are connected to it will determine how strong the traumatic response is.
Aaron Gorrell (host): In fact, we have actually done a number of webinars in the association with the National Animal Care and Control Association that from veterinarians, forensic veterinarians and animal control officers that talks a lot about that link between child abuse and animal abuse and it’s overall relation to domestic violence.
Aaron Gorrell (host): Before we close down for the day, I’d like to give you the last word.
Duane Bowers: If you’re working with a child and there is abnormal behavior, if there is withdrawal, if there is aggression, whatever. If you’re working with a child who is showing some kind of mental health issue, please go to the trauma first. If it’s not trauma, you’re not going to any harm by looking for trauma. You can go on from there. From our experience, I think that’s true for most people listening, trauma is such a widespread affliction for kids today. I would go to trauma before I would go to any other diagnosis just to see what is in the background of this child. I’m looking at prenatal as well as after birth. Please when you’re working with kids, don’t discredit trauma just because it looks like a good family or the environment looks positive. It may have happened even before they were born.
Click Here to Watch a Recording of The Impact of Trauma on Child Development: What Justice Professionals Need to Know.