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1989 NOVA Newsl. 1 (1989)

handle is hein.journals/novan1989 and id is 1 raw text is: 


      Ne wslett

                         Volume  13, Number  1,  1989


Working With Victims Who Are Children Or Adolescents

    Using The Lessons Of Child Development With Young Trauma Victims

by Marlene A. Young
Executive Director

Editor's note: a number ofparticipants in
Marlene Young's workshops on child vic-
tims have asked NOVA   to publish her
presentation as an  article. We   are
pleased to do so here.

    Over the last thirty years there has
been a great deal of research, discussion,
and program development in the field of
child abuse. Concern over the physical
abuse of children in the 1960s evolved to
a  growing awareness  of child sexual
abuse  as a critical problem as well.
However,  despite the publicity and the
public awareness of the victimization of
children, there has been little written for
general victim advocates about the way
children respond to traumatic events and
the types of interventions that may be
useful to individuals working with child
victims of trauma.
    This article will examine the devel-
opmental stages that children go through
and describe the reactions of children at
various stages of development in the af-
termath of trauma. Then some practical
recommendations  for intervention will be
presented. The observations in this paper
are based on the author's experience in
working  with child victims who  have
been physically or sexually abused, chil-
dren who  have survived manmade acci-
dents and natural disasters, children who
have survived or witnessed criminal as-
saults or murder. In addition, it will incor-
porate current research findings where
    There  are three general tenets that
should be remembered  when  childhood
development  and trauma are discussed.
First, it is important to understand that

           Marlene A. Young

developmental stages are not precise or
rigid. Each child develops individually.
Some  may  move  through some  stages
more quickly than others. Some children
mature faster and others slower. Hence,
the age ranges discussed below are simply
    Second,  when  children survive a
major traumatic event, they often suffer
two kinds of victimization. They may be
victimized by the initiating event - the
criminal attack, the flood, the plane crash,
and so forth - and they often are victim-
ized by the temporary or permanent loss
of their parents.
    The loss of parents is precipitated by
the fact that parents often get so involved
in the disaster that has befallen their home
or community that they ignore their chil-
dren, sometimes consciously, out of a
protective desire to keep their children in
the dark, and sometimes because the chil-
dren are forgotten in all of the distress
over the catastrophe.
    And  sometimes it is because one or
both parents die or are not allowed to be
with their children because they were per-
petrators or accomplices in an abusive

    Whatever the reason or the duration,
the loss of parents can be more traumatic
than the catastrophe for many children.
    Third, there is some evidence sug-
gesting that if a child suffers a trauma at
any particular developmental stage, it is
natural for him or her to have further
reactions to the trauma as the child goes
through the  succeeding stages.  This
seems to be due to the fact that there is a
need to understand the trauma in the con-
text of each developmental stage until

    The infancy stage is from birth until
about two years old. It is characterized by
extraordinary physical  and  sensorial
growth. Infants learn to focus their eyes,
distinguish noises, distinguish tastes, and
to distinguish themselves from others.
While it is often called a pre-verbal stage
of life, in fact, most parents recognize that
it is a very verbal stage. Infants commu-
nicate through noise and physical action,
they simply do not have a known  lan-
guage. Little is known about their thought

             (See Children, page 3)

 In   This Issue:
   * New  Victimization
     Survey Results ........  2

   *Law   Enforcement  Training
     on Domestic Violence . , . 6

   * Adopt  a Bookshelf at
     the NOVA   Library.....  8

The NOVA Newsletter is published as a service to the NOVA membership and to the general public. Views expressed here are those of their authors and do not necessarily
represent those of the Board ofDirectors ofNOVA. 0 1988 by the National Organization for Victim Assistance. Permission is hereby granted to reproduce copyrighted
materials in the Newsletter provided the source and copyright are appropriately noted in the reproduction.

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