National PTSD Awareness Day is June 27  however, for us here at SACA, PTSD Awareness is EVERY DAY!

Below you will read about PTSD in children.  The signs and symptoms of PTSD have several common factors for children, adolescents and adults however our focus here is geared directly towards the child.

You have probably heard about PTSD before, mostly in relation to veterans however, the disorder can impact and effect anyone who has gone through a traumatic experience— especially children.

Every child is different and their behavior may or may not include one or all of the symptoms of PTSD stated below.  Do not self diagnose a child, seek professional guidance and medical opinions.

If you or someone you know is possibly suffering from PTSD please do NOT remain alone, get help NOW.

PTSD can be managed with appropriate therapy and sometimes with the use of prescribed medication(s).   Please see a medical professional immediately to diagnose if you or your child is suffering from PTSD.   Obtaining outside assistance and therapy can be the difference between life and death.  PTSD is real and VERY serious; it is stigmatized in the public eye by people who do not understand trauma however statistics tell us that more than 3 million children in the United States are believed to have PTSD!!  This is an astronomical number and one that must be addressed with awareness and education in our communities, families and government!

A diagnosis of PTSD means that the child in question has experienced an event that involved a threat to his life or witnessed  a threat of another’s life either physically or by association, or what they perceived as a threat or  a compromised physical integrity and that the child responded with intense fear, helplessness, or horror.

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) was formally recognized as a psychiatric diagnosis in 1980.


Treatment approaches can include:

  • psychotherapy, or “talk therapy”

  • family support

  • in some cases, medication that is prescribed in conjunction with therapy.


FACT:  Children have a greater chance of developing PTSD if the trauma involved a family member or others very close to them.

FACT: Girls are more likely to develop PTSD than boys.


FACT: The more violent the experience, the more likely a survivor will have PTSD.



Three risk factors have been shown to INCREASE the likelihood that a child will develop PTSD. These include:

  • The severity of the traumatic event

  • The parental reaction to the traumatic event

  • The physical proximity to the traumatic event.

Several traumatic events and exposure to traumatic events have been shown to cause PTSD. Children and adolescents may be diagnosed with the condition if they have survived, witnessed or experienced any of the following.  This list is not complete but more of a basic summary as ANY traumatic experience can cause PTSD in a child:


  • Natural and human-created disasters, such as earthquakes, floods, hurricanes, etc.

  • Witnessing a Violent crime of another for example rape or murder of a parent, sniper fire, or school shootings, domestic violence of any kind

  • Motor vehicle accidents, such as automobile, train, plane crashes

  • Witnessing a severe accident

  • Severe burns

  • Exposure to community violence

  • War / Terrorist attacks

  • Peer suicide

  • Sexual abuse / assault / rape / molestation (any type of sexual abuse)

  • physical abuse

  • Neglect

  • Kidnapping

  • Sudden death of a loved one / parent / sibling / close family member

  • Any type of assault

  • Life threatening illness of the child or loved one

  • Family history of PTSD or depression

  • Stress in every day life

  • Lack of coping skills

  • Newly adopted or placed in foster care or switched between foster care situations

Many studies have shown that there is a connection between children’s exposure to traumatic events and psychological problems. These possible connections include not only full-scale PTSD, but also problems with:

  • peer relationships

  • relationships within the family

  • self-esteem

  • school activities and performance

  • sexual behavior (in cases of sexual abuse)

  • emotional development

  • depression and anger

  • physical health

  • substance abuse

  • fears

  • anger

  • guilt

  • feeling ashamed



If childhood abuse is not treated, long-term symptoms can go on through adulthood, including PTSD.  These symptoms may also include:

  • Anxiety

  • Depression and thoughts of suicide  ( and / or self destructive behavior)

  • Sexual anxiety and disorders, including having too many or unsafe sexual partners

  • Difficulty setting safe limits with others (e.g., saying no to people) and relationship problems

  • Poor body image and low self-esteem

  • Unhealthy behaviors, such as alcohol, drugs, self-harm, or eating problems. These behaviors are often used to try to hide painful emotions related to the abuse

  • Change in school habits, lowering of grades, changes in performance / academics

  • Avoiding activities, places, thoughts, or feelings that remind you of the trauma

  • Inability to remember important aspects of the trauma

  • Loss of interest in activities and life in general

  • Feeling detached from others and emotionally numb

  • Sense of a limited future (you don’t expect to live a normal life span, get married, have a career, etc, etc….)

  • Stranger or separation anxiety

  • Sleep disturbances / Nightmares with possible non remembrance of dreams/ Insomnia

  •  A preoccupation with words or symbols that may or may not be related to the trauma.

  • eating disorders

  • major depression

  • oppositional defiant disorder

  • panic disorder

  • phobias

  • separation anxiety disorder

  • generalized anxiety disorders

  • conduct disorders

  • Irritability and aggression

  • dissociative disorders

  • attention – deficit hyperactivity disorder



PTSD symptoms can include any or all of the following:

  • Losing previously-acquired skills (such as toilet training) / Bedwetting

  • Somber, compulsive play in which themes or aspects of the trauma are repeated, Acting out the scary event during playtime / Acting out the trauma through play, stories, or drawings

  • New phobias and anxieties that seem unrelated to the trauma (such as a fear of monsters)

  • Aches and pains with no apparent cause

  • Forgetting how or being unable to talk

  • Being unusually clingy with a parent or other adult.

  • disturbing memories or flashbacks

  • repeated nightmares and dreams of death /Nightmares/ Insomnia

  • belief in omens and prediction of disastrous future events

  • pessimism about the future and expectation of early death /dreams of death / Abnormal fear of death

  • avoiding reminders of traumatic experiences

  • fear of re-experiencing traumatic anxiety

  • behavioral re-enactment

  • emotional numbness (seeming to have no feelings, except perhaps anger)

  • diminished interest in significant activities

  • physical symptoms, such as stomachaches and headaches

  • feeling constantly on guard, or nervous and jumpy, easily startled

  • Irritability or outbursts of anger / Abrupt mood swings

  • Difficulty concentrating

  • Hyper vigilance (on constant “red alert”)

  • disturbing memories or flashbacks

  • Difficulty falling or staying asleep / Restless sleep

  • Anger and irritability

  • Guilt, shame, or self-blame

  • Substance abuse

  • Feelings of mistrust and betrayal / Inability to trust others.

  • Depression and hopelessness

  • Suicidal thoughts and feelings

  • Physical aches and pains

  • Recurrent and intrusive recollections of a traumatic event

  • Dislike of being touched

  • Lack of memory for important aspects of a distressing incident

  • Feeling estranged from others /Feelings of isolation and stigma/ Hiding from others, avoiding friends, or loss of interest in activities that were previously enjoyed / Feeling alienated and alone

  • Feeling of having a short life span

    •Exaggerated startle response

    •Numbness or diminished emotions

    •Control issues

    • Frequent or uncontrollable crying

    •Feeling crazy, or very different from others

    •Excessive shyness



    •Panic attacks


    •Swallowing or gagging sensitivity

    •Lack of sex drive

    •Low self-confidence

    •Unreasonable feelings of unworthiness or inferiority

    •Poor body image

    •Feeling sexually stimulated inappropriately or when there is no conscious reason for it.

    • Frequent, excessive, unwarranted, washing (especially of the genitals or breasts)

    •Obsessed with a need to insure safety of self or loved ones

    •Abnormal fear or hatred of men

    •Abnormal fear or hatred of women



  • More than 35 percent of children exposed to a single traumatic event will develop a serious mental health problem.

A few studies of the general population have been conducted that examine rates of exposure and PTSD in children and adolescents. Results from these studies indicate:

  • 15 to 43 percent of girls have experienced at least one traumatic event in their lifetime.

  • 14 to 43 percent of boys have experienced at least one traumatic event in their lifetime. Of those children and adolescents who have experienced a trauma, 3 to 15 percent of girls and 1 to 6 percent of boys could be diagnosed with PTSD.

Rates of PTSD are much higher in children and adolescents recruited from at risk samples, varying from 3-100%. For example, studies have shown that as many as 100% of children who witness a parental homicide or sexual assault, 90% of sexually abused children, 77% exposed to a school shooting, and 35% of urban youth exposed to community violence develop PTSD.  In adolescents and children, PTSD rates are higher in those recruited from at-risk samples. The rates in these at-risk groups vary from 3 to 100 percent. For example, studies have shown that as many as 100 percent of children who witness a parental homicide or sexual assault develops PTSD.  To address this issue, researchers at the Center for Developmental Epidemiology in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at Duke University Medical Center looked at rates of traumatic exposure and the experience of PTSD symptoms in a large sample of children under the age of 16 from western North Carolina. (VA.Gov)

Rates of Traumatic Exposure in Children

They found that a large number of children had been exposed to traumatic events before the age of 16. Approximately 68% of children had direct or indirect exposure to a traumatic event before the age of 16. The following events were the most commonly identified:

  • Witnessing a traumatic event (23.7%)
  • Learning about a traumatic event (21.4%)
  • Violent death of a sibling or peer (14.5%)
  • Being involved in a serious accident
  • Being exposed to a natural disaster (11.1%)
  • Being diagnosed with a physical illness (11%)
  • Experience of sexual abuse (10.9%)

In addition, approximately 30% of children had experienced only one traumatic event and 37% had experienced multiple events.

  • An estimated 70% of adults in the US have experienced a traumatic event at least once in their lives, & up to 20% of these people will go on to develop PTSD.
  • More than 13 million Americans have PTSD at any  given time.
  • Approximately one in 13 people in this country will develop PTSD during their lifetime.
  • An estimated one out of 10 women will get PTSD at some point in their lives.
  • Women are twice as likely as men to develop PTSD.
  • Almost 17% of men & 13% of women have experienced more than three traumatic events.

The estimated risk for developing PTSD after any of the following traumatic events:

  • rape 49%
  • severe beating or physical assault 31.9%
  • other sexual assault 23.7 %
  • serious accident or injury; for example car, plane, train accident 16.8%
  • shooting or stabbing 15.4%
  • sudden unexpected death of a family member or close friend 14.3%
  • child’s life threatening illness 10.4%
  • witness to killing or serious injury 7.3%
  • natural disaster 3.8%

Soldiers Against Child Abuse 2012 All Rights Reserved.


Soldiers Against Child Abuse:

Wounded Warriors Of South Florida:

Author Wm. Koch Jr:

Casualties of War:


PTSD and Rape:

National Center For PTSD:


PTSD Support and Global Awareness


National Center for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder

The Nature of Intrusive Memories After Trauma: The Warning SignalHypothesis, Ehlers A, Hackmann A, Steil R, Clohessy S, Wenninger K, Winter H Behav Res Ther 2002 Sep; 40(9):995-1002 ,

Department of Psychology, Institute of Psychiatry, King’s College London

Research and Education on Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder
PTSD and RELATIONSHIPS -A National Center Fact Sheet,8599,2016824,00.html


Resources for PTSD: Child, Adult, Veteran, Abuse and many additional aspects:

VETERANS’ CRISIS LINE 1-800-273-8255 (PRESS 1)–It Takes the courage and strength of a Warrior to ask for HELP.. –



Vet Centers If you are a combat Veteran or experienced any sexual trauma during your military service, bring your DD214 to your local Vet Center and speak with a counselor or therapist—many of whom are Veterans themselves—for free, without an appointment, and regardless of your enrollment status with VA.


Understanding PTSD Booklet This eight-page booklet explains what PTSD is, provides information and resources on support, and shares real stories from people who have dealt effectively with PTSD.


Understanding PTSD Treatment This eight-page booklet explains in detail the various proven ways to treat PTSD and debunks some myths about treatment.


National Center for PTSD Explore this comprehensive website for detailed information about PTSD, its effects and treatment, and resources for support.


VA’s PTSD Program Locator This site will allow you to search for PTSD programs located near you. If you are eligible to receive care through the Veterans Health Administration, you can enroll in one of VA’s PTSD treatment programs.


Important PTSDHotline.Com Emergency Statement:

If this is an emergency please call 1 800 273-8255 Press #1 for Veterans or find other information below.

PTSDHotline.Com is an information only conduit put together by fellow PTSD Veterans to help other Vets stay connected. Find the info that you need fast.

PTSDHotline.Com does not hire Telephone support personal.

Stay connected through PTSDHotline.Com Message Boards or find other live support personal through several of the links below:


MilitaryOneSource – Provides resources and support to active-duty, National Guard, and Reserve service members and their families anywhere in the world. The program is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week at no cost to users. www.militaryonesource.com1-800-342-9647


SAMHSA – works to improve the quality and availability of substance abuse prevention, alcohol and drug addiction treatment, and mental health services. 1-800-662-HELP (4357)


Tri-Care – Provides information on your military health benefits. As a military family member covered under TRICARE, you may go directly to mental health providers in the TRICARE network for care for anxiety, depression, or other serious emotional issues. North Region 1-877-874-2273, South Region 1-800-444-5445, West Region 1-800-558-1746


Navy Marine Corps Relief Society – Can provide financial training for all military families, and emergency loans for active military.


American Red Cross – Provides domestic disaster relief, community services that help the needy, support and comfort for military members and their families, the collection, processing and distribution of lifesaving blood and blood products, educational programs that promote health and safety, and international relief and development programs. 1-877-272-7337 – Is the DoD-response to the 2006/2007 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) requiring an internet-based platform focused on psychological health issues often experienced following a deployment. www.afterdeployment.org866-966-1020


National Center for PTSD – The National Center for Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) conduct cutting edge research and apply resultant findings to: “Advance the Science and Promote Understanding of Traumatic Stress.” Fact sheets, videos, and more about trauma to help answer your questions about PTSD and related issues. 1-800-273-8255


The Brain Line – Traumatic brain injury resource. Brain injury facts, information, symptoms and support. Resources for preventing, treating, and living with brain injury.


Defense Center of Excellence – The Outreach Center answers questions and provides tools, tips and resources about psychological health and traumatic brain injury 24/7 365 days a year for members of all military services (including the National Guard and Reserve), families, health care providers, military leaders and employers. It is staffed by psychological health consultants and nurses with advanced degrees and expertise in psychological health and traumatic brain injury issues. Information and resources can be accessed by telephone, website, email or real time chat with a health resource consultant. All information and referrals are provided without charge.


National Resource Directory – The National Resource Directory (NRD) provides access to services and resources at the national, state and local levels that support recovery, rehabilitation and community reintegration.


Military Health System – Active duty service members, retirees, and their families benefit every day from the Military Health System’s commitment to care. From online mental health resources to research initiatives that determine health risks to the communication efforts that inform on the most up-to-date medical news, the MHS is an organization dedicated to keeping every current and retired service member healthy and strong.


Real Warriors – The campaign features stories of real service members who have sought treatment and are continuing to maintain successful military or civilian careers. In addition, DCoE established the DCoE Outreach Center, a 24/7 call center staffed by health resource consultants to provide confidential answers, tools, tips and resources about psychological health and traumatic brain injury. The Outreach Center can be reached via e-mail at www.realwarriors.net866-966-1020


Military Home Front – The Department of Defense website for a wide range of quality-of-life information. For information related to deployment issues, click on “Troops and Families,” then on “Deployment Readiness.”


National Suicide Prevention Lifeline – a free, 24-hour hotline available to anyone in suicidal crisis or emotional distress. Your call will be routed to the nearest crisis center to you. www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org1-800-273-TALK (8255)


Military Child Education Coalition – Helps military families ensure quality educational opportunities for children affected by relocation, family separation, and transition. Click on “Publications” to find deployment support resources for families and schools. 1-800-953-1923


National Military Family Association – Information for military families on a wide range of issues. Find deployment information under “Get Info” and “Publications.”.


Alcoholics Anonymous


The National Domestic Violence Hotline – The hotline is staffed 24 hours a day by trained counselors who can provide crisis assistance and information about shelters, legal advocacy, health care centers and counseling. There is also a toll-free number for the hearing impaired, 1-800-787-3224 www.thehotline.org1-800-799-SAFE (7233)


The National Sexual Assault Hotline – Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network (RAINN) www.rainn.org1-800-656-HOPE This number will direct callers to a local rape crisis center


National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence Hotline www.ncadd.com1-800-622-2255


National Child Abuse Hotline www.childhelp.org1-800-4-A-CHILD


Military Significant Others and Spouse Support


Foster Care for Military Pets


Spouse Buzz


Military Kids Blog


Healing Combat Trauma – 40 blogs for PTSD support


Suicide Prevention / Depression

USA: Hopeline (Suicide): 1-800-SUICIDE (1-800-784-2433) USA: Suicide Hotline: 1-800-273-Talk (1-800-8255) USA: Teen Hotline Covenant House NineLine: 1-800-999-9999 USA: SOS Teen Hotline: 1-800-949-0057 USA: Grief Recovery Helpline: 1-800-445-4808 USA: Directory of local helplines / centers

PTSD SUPPORT ON FACEBOOK: (this is a partial list)

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