Re­port urges study of early trauma

Metro Canada (Edmonton) - - Edmonton - Omar Mosleh

The com­mon thread to emerge from an in­ves­tiga­tive re­view into the deaths of three young In­dige­nous fe­males is the need for the prov­ince to pay greater at­ten­tion to the im­pact of trauma on chil­dren.

Al­berta’s Child and Youth Ad­vo­cate, Del Graff, led a re­view into the deaths of 13-year-old Tina, 16-year-old Shirley and 19-year-old Jazmine over the course of seven months in 2015.

Although they each had unique life ex­pe­ri­ences, the ad­vo­cate’s re­port notes all three girls ex­pe­ri­enced early child­hood trauma due to ex­po­sure to vi­o­lence, ad­dic­tions and ne­glect.

“Re­search in­di­cates that early child­hood trauma has a pro­found im­pact on chil­dren, espe­cially on how their brains de­velop,” the re­port states.

For that rea­son, the re­port rec­om­mends that the Gov­ern­ment of Al­berta “cre­ate and im­ple­ment cross-min­istry train­ing for all child-serv­ing min­istries” specif­i­cally re­lated to the im­pact of trauma on the brain and child­hood de­vel­op­ment.

Fur­ther­more, it rec­om­mends the Min­istry of Chil­dren’s Ser­vices make sure chil­dren and care­givers re­ceive cul­tur­ally ap­pro­pri­ate, timely in­ter­ven­tions that ad­dress child­hood trauma.

In Tina, Shirley and Jazmine’s cases, their early child­hood ex­pe­ri­ences com­pro­mised their abil­ity to be in healthy re­la­tion­ships. Although they lived with rel­a­tives who cared about them and wanted to help, they still needed more sup­port.

“Child wel­fare must rec­og­nize the long-term, on­go­ing na­ture of vul­ner­a­bil­ity and risk,” the re­port states.

“There must be a shift from short-term re­sponses that deal with one in­ci­dent at a time, to a cul­ture of long-term sup­port.”

In an emailed state­ment, Chil­dren’s Ser­vices Min­is­ter Danielle Larivee said her de­part­ment was sad­dened by the re­port and noted the im­por­tance of high­light­ing the im­pact of trauma on child de­vel­op­ment.

“When we sup­port chil­dren, youth and fam­i­lies who have lived through grief and loss, we must en­sure those sup­ports ad­dress the ef­fects trauma has had.”

The state­ment ac­knowl­edges the preva­lence of child­hood trauma in First Na­tions com­mu­ni­ties, and said the gov­ern­ment is in the process of train­ing staff, as well as foster and kin­ship par­ents, to be bet­ter equipped to sup­port chil­dren and fam­i­lies who have ex­pe­ri­enced grief and loss.

“This re­quires a co-or­di­nated re­sponse that fo­cuses not only on the in­di­vid­ual and im­me­di­ate safety needs of young peo­ple, but on the broader re­al­i­ties of com­mu­nity trauma. We will work to en­sure First Na­tions are sup­ported to lead com­mu­nity re­sponses to th­ese re­al­i­ties.”


Child and Youth Ad­vo­cate Del Gra is con­cerned about the long-term e ects of child­hood trauma.

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