Being trauma-informed or trauma-sensitive is a crucial part of systems of care. In order to have a more caring system surrounding children’s mental health, we must understand the widespread occurrence of trauma and how to create environments that support the resilience of individuals who have experienced it.

SAMHSA identifies four key components of trauma-informed care: (1) understanding trauma and how it can affect families, groups, organizations and communities, (2) the ability to recognize the signs of trauma, (3) that there is a response by applying a trauma-informed approach and (4) efforts made to resist re-traumatization.

If we ignore the fact that a majority of people will experience at least one trauma over their lifespan, then we are setting ourselves up for failure. Trauma can have a deep, long-lasting impact on a person’s perception of the world and of themselves. By taking a trauma-informed perspective we are recognizing the impact of trauma and finding ways to help those who have experienced trauma to feel safe in our presence and in our organizations. Only from a foundation of safety and trust can we expect children, youth and their families to allow us to join their mental health journey.

With the right support and intervention, people can overcome traumatic experiences.

Trauma is more common than many people think

The Federal Interagency Forum on Child and Family Statistics reported that, in 2014, children aged 0-17 had experienced trauma in their lifetime…


8% had experienced sexual victimization


25% had experienced maltreatment


41% had experienced a property crime


51% had experienced a physical assault


38% had witnessed domestic violence

Bullying and Trauma are Connected

  • U.S. students in grades 6–12 experienced bullying 28% 28%
  • Young people admit to bullying others in surveys 30% 30%
  • Young people say they have seen bullying in their schools 70.6% 70.6%
  • Students in grades 6–12 experienced cyberbullying 9% 9%
  • LGBTQ students experienced cyberbullying 55.2% 55.2%
  • Students who are bullied notify adults about the bullying 20-30% 20-30%
The National Child Traumatic Stress Network (NCTSN) infographic above shows the relationship between bullying and trauma. It is important to know:

  1. Children who have experienced trauma are more likely to be bullied and are more likely to bully others,
  2. Being bullied can be traumatic and lead to the development of Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD),
  3. When intervening it is important to address both the bullying and the trauma in order to reduce their impact. has more information about the impact of bullying and what can be done to help all involved.

Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs)

In the 1990’s Kaiser Permanente did a study of over 17,000 members, asking them about their childhood experiences and their current health and behaviors. That and other ACE studies have found that…


ACEs are common

Almost two thirds of adults reported at least one.

ACEs increase risk

Having one or more ACE has been found to be a risk factor for more than 40 health concerns.

ACEs cluster

If there is one ACE, there is probably another.

ACEs can be prevented

A safe, stable, nurturing relationship or environment can help prevent ACEs and reduce risk for those who have already experienced them.

ACEs are not destiny

Just like knowing other risk factors, knowing your ACE score gives you the power to take action.
In Indiana, 54% of children have not experienced any ACEs. 23% have experienced 1 ACE and 11% have experienced 2 ACEs. 12% of children in Indiana have experienced 3 or more ACEs, that’s more than 180,000 children.

In the United States, the most common ACEs children experience are economic hardship and the divorce/separation of a parent/guardian. The third most common ACE differs based on race and ethnicity. For white or Hispanic children, it is living with an adult with a substance use problem. For black, non-Hispanic children it is parental incarceration.

In our area of the United States, only 38% of black children have no ACEs compared to 52% of Hispanic children, 60% of white children and 79% of Asian American children.

For more information, visit Child Trends, ACEsConnection or watch this 5-minute video from KPJR Films.


Ways to Be Trauma-Informed


Change your thinking from "What is wrong with you?" to "What happened to you?"

A behavior that may seem to create problems for a person now may have originally developed for protection and survival during a threatening time. By understanding what a person has experienced, we better understand behaviors and mindsets.


Become trauma aware

Learn how trauma can impact individuals and their families and friends.


Create a safe environment

Consider how to make your space safe – physically, psychologically and emotionally – for those who have been through trauma.


Understand that trauma is a personal experience

A person’s age, life experience, gender, health status, support system, genetics and many other factors influence how a trauma is perceived and how that person responds to it.

For information about how to become a trauma-informed behavioral health organization, take a look at the Trauma-Informed Care Implementation Resource Center

Resources for Self-Care

Self-Care Starter Kit

This kit from the University of Buffalo School of Social Work was developed for professionals but can be used by anyone as a way to develop a self-care plan. It includes assessments, activities and exercises.

Mental Health America

This page shares tools to use on your path to recovery from mental health challenges.

The Road to Resilience

The Harvard Center for the Developing Child has a series of briefs and videos that explain what resilience is and how to build it.

The Source • Youth Mental Health Network


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


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


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