The Trauma-Drama Cycle.

A child experiencing chronic trauma is a child constantly in flight or fight mode. Eventually the brain and body cannot respond properly and begins to break down.

If exposed to these risk factors routinely, by the time a child is 5-years-old his or her DNA is changed, with an increased risk for disease and early death.

Even more frightening, this DNA damage can be passed

down from generation to generation.

Youth inmates at the Connecticut Juvenile Training School (CTJS) wearing shirts with quotes from Chip St. Clair's memoir The Butterfly Garden 

 

These traumatized young people are more likely to disengage

at home and school, turning inward -- oftentimes resulting in

deviant and self-destructive behavior, delinquency, drug and alcohol abuse, gang violence, depression, and low self-worth.

When these kids grow up, they are more likely to develop diabetes, high blood pressure, autoimmune diseases, and mental health disorders.

Of the thousands of children and teens among us who

experience chronic trauma, those victims of risk factors

such as poverty and high crime neighborhoods, those

exposed to drug and alcohol abuse, those who suffer

constant physical/sexual/emotional abuse and/or neglect,

those who are swept into human trafficking, those who

live in perpetual fear, those ‘at-risk’ youth are more likely

to perpetuate the cycle of trauma and drama in their

own lives.

Study after study shows that

traumatized children often have problems with:

  • fear

  • anxiety

  • depression

  • anger and hostility

  • aggression

  • sexually inappropriate behavior

  • self-destructive behavior

  • feelings of isolation and stigma

  • poor self-esteem

  • difficulty in trusting others

  • substance abuse

  • sexual maladjustment

Children who have experienced trauma often have relationship problems with peers and family members, problems with acting out, and problems with school performance.

Along with associated symptoms, there are a number of psychiatric disorders that are commonly found in children and adolescents who have been traumatized. One commonly co-occurring disorder is major depression. Other disorders include substance abuse, anxiety disorders, panic disorder, and generalized anxiety disorder.

Additionally, many young PTSD sufferers also experience externalizing disorders such as attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder, oppositional defiant disorder, and conduct disorder.

    Behavioral Symptoms:

  • Reenactment of trauma through play

  • Angry outbursts

  • Behavioral inhibition

  • Reckless behaviors

        Physical Symptoms:

  • Smaller hippocampal volume

  • Altered metabolism in areas of the brain involved in perception of threat

  • Low basal cortisol levels

  • Sleep disturbances

  • Difficulties with physical contact

       Cognitive Symptoms:

  • Trouble concentrating in school

  • Negative cognitive development

  • Altered cognitive functioning

  • Increased arousal and hyper-vigilance

     Psychosocial Symptoms:

  • Emotional numbing

  • Sadness

  • Guilt

  • Low self-esteem

  • Inability to trust others

It should come as no surprise that many of these traumatized young people end up dropping out of school, getting expelled, or find themselves caught up in the juvenile justice system.

At the inception of the juvenile justice system over 100 years ago, society accurately viewed delinquent youth as still developing. The end goal was primarily centered on rehabilitation, not punishment. The objectives of this new system included separation from the adult population for protection and prevention of those youth from being involved in more serious crimes.

However, over the decades and for a multitude of reasons, the juvenile justice system strayed away from this initial blueprint of compassion and reform and instead adopted policies much more aligned with the punitive nature of the adult criminal justice system.

 70% of all youth

in the juvenile

justice system have

a trauma-related

mental health

disorder.

Current Methodology includes:

     •  Probation

     •  Home Detention

     •  Electronic Monitoring

     •  Incarceration in Secure

        Juvenile Detention Facilities

     •  Scared Straight/Boot Camp

​​

But the facts show that these programs have little to no effect in either reducing recidivism or rehabilitating the juvenile.

Our project was created to find alternative ways for traumatized youth to express their emotions. How do we prevent the cycle of drama and trauma that puts our youth at-risk? How do we intervene and help those youth who are lacking the necessary coping tools?

But there is HOPE !

SCBF answers these questions by providing traumatized children and teens powerful and proven mentorship programs grounded in the creative arts, thereby empowering them with healthy coping mechanisms, teaching them necessary life skills, and inspiring them to unlock their potential… literally rewriting not only their future, but their DNA!

Our Partners

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St. Clair Butterfly Foundation is a 501 (c)(3) Nonprofit

© 2007  St. Clair Butterfly Foundation. All Rights Reserved.

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