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Individual trauma results from an event, a series of events or set of circumstances that is experienced by an individual as physically or emotionally harmful or threatening and that can have lasting adverse effects on the individual’s functioning and physical, social and emotional well-being.

There are three main types of trauma are:

  • Acute trauma resulting from a single incident.
  • Chronic trauma resulting from repeated and prolonged experiences such as domestic violence or abuse.
  • Complex trauma resulting from exposure to varied and multiple traumatic events often of an invasive and interpersonal nature.

Children can experience various types of trauma including:

  • Natural disasters
  • Sexual Abuse
  • Physical Abuse
  • Domestic Violence
  • Medical Injury, illness or procedures
  • Community violence
  • Accidents
  • School violence
  • Loss


Research has shown that children are particularly vulnerable to trauma because of their rapidly developing brain.

During traumatic experiences, a child’s brain is in a heightened state of stress and fear-related hormones are activated. Although stress is a normal part of life, when a child is exposed to chronic trauma, like abuse or neglect, the child’s brain remains in this heightened pattern.

Remaining in this heightened state can change the emotional, behavioural and cognitive functioning of the child in order to maintain and promote survival. Over time, these traumatic experiences can have a significant impact on a child’s behaviour, emotional development, mental and physical health.

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