THE SOURCE: IT'S OK TO ASK

Something bad happened to my child, what should I do?

 

SOMETHING BAD HAPPENED TO MY CHILD, WHAT SHOULD I DO?

As much as we want to protect our children from everything, they can still get hurt. In fact, in community samples, more than two-thirds of children report experiencing a traumatic event by age 16 (American Psychological Association, 2008). If something bad has happened to your child, you are not alone.

What is trauma?

The National Child Traumatic Stress Network defines a traumatic event as “a frightening, dangerous, or violent event that poses a threat to a child’s life or bodily integrity. 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 their attachment figures.”

Traumatic events could include the death of a loved one, violence in the home or community, physical or sexual abuse, sudden separation from a loved one, a serious illness or hospitalization, verbal abuse or neglect, bullying, natural disaster or serious illness.

Children view the world differently than adults. Sometimes we may not define an event as a trauma or as life-threatening but it could still be traumatic to a child because of the child’s view of what happened.

What do I do if a child tells me that something happened to them?

If a child comes to you and tells you that something bad has happened to them, your response matters:

  1. Manage your own feelings so that you can focus on responding to the child. The child may be sharing information with you that is new to you, or upsetting, but it is important that the child not be distracted by your feelings.
  2. Let the child know that you are glad he has talked to you about what happened.
  3. Provide the child with emotional support and emphasize that these feelings are a normal response to what happened.
  4. Reassure the child that you will help her feel better and stay safe. Get extra help if that is needed.

If you suspect that the child experienced abuse or neglect, call Indiana’s Child Abuse Hotline at 1-800-800-5556 to report the event. If you suspect that a crime was committed, call your local police. If you suspect your child is being bullied, call the youth’s school principal.

Here are some other resources that could help you

Click the topic below for more information:

Each child reacts to traumatic events differently, even within the same family

Trauma turns on a person’s internal alarm system, telling the person to run away, fight or freeze. Everyone has this alarm and it is important that it turn on when there is immediate danger. But sometimes that alarm system stays on, even after the danger has passed. When that happens, a child may have child traumatic stress.

This means that the event is continuing to impact the child’s body, mind and emotions.

The Source • Youth Mental Health Network

MORE RESOURCES

There are a lot of places in your city that can help, too.
Here is a list of some community resources.

IF THIS IS AN EMERGENCY CALL 911 or GO TO NEAREST EMERGENCY ROOM

For the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline call 1-800-273-8255 or text the word ‘home’ to 741741 for Crisis Text Line.

IF THIS IS AN EMERGENCY CALL 911 or GO TO NEAREST EMERGENCY ROOM

For the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline call 1-800-273-8255 or text the word ‘home’ to 741741 for Crisis Text Line.

CONTACT US

Thank you for messaging us

We do not monitor these messages 24/7, so if this is an emergency and you need immediate assistance, please call 911 or go to your nearest emergency room.

If you need someone to talk to, text “Help” to 741741, or call 1-800-273-8255.