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.
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
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.
Youth inmates at the Connecticut Juvenile Training School (CTJS) wearing shirts with quotes from Chip St. Clair's memoir The Butterfly Garden
Study after study shows that
traumatized children often have problems with:
anger and hostility
sexually inappropriate behavior
feelings of isolation and stigma
difficulty in trusting others
Children who have experienced trauma often have relationship problems
with peers and family members, problems with acting out, and problems with
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.
Inability to trust others
Smaller hippocampal volume
Altered metabolism in areas of the brain involved in perception of threat
Low basal cortisol levels
Difficulties with physical contact
Reenactment of trauma through play
Trouble concentrating in school
Negative cognitive development
Altered cognitive functioning
Increased arousal and hyper-vigilance
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.
Current Methodology includes:
• 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!
70% of all youth
in the juvenile
justice system have