Causes and Conditions of Childhood Trauma: A Practical Approach for Justice Professionals

Causes and Conditions of Childhood Trauma: A Practical Approach for Justice Professionals
Duration: 60 Minutes
Module 1 Resources
Recorded on: 2020-02-06
Unit 1 Slide Deck: Causes and Conditions of Childhood Trauma
Unit 2 Workbook: Causes and Conditions of Childhood Trauma
Unit 3 Recording: Causes and Conditions of Childhood Trauma

Traumatic events can have lasting effects on people – more so if it is children who have limited understanding and lack awareness when it comes to regulation their own behavior and emotions.

Duane Bowers is back on Justice Clearinghouse to help us all understand trauma in children, what it does to the brain and body, and its effects throughout the victim’s life. Duane is a Licensed Professional Counselor and Educator who specializes in trauma working with survivors of trauma, child exploitation, and trafficking. He provides support to families who suffer loss and professionals exposed to trauma in their work. He also wrote the books Guiding Your Family Through Loss and Grief, and A Child is Missing: Providing Support for Families of Missing Children.

Points he deep-dived into on this course are:

  • The different types of trauma and specific examples of how children may be subjected to these.
  • The concept of a traumatic event and how it creates a picture or memory that a person may constantly go back to when triggered.
  • The three main characteristics of a traumatic event that children may feel.
  • Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) – the only trauma-based disorder on the DSM-V and the conditions that cause trauma.
  • Understanding the traumatic response by looking at the limbic brain and its functions.
    • Activity within the amygdala where incoming information is scanned for a link to a negative or threatening memory in an attempt to keep a person alive.
    • How cortisol is released when a confirmed association between the input and memory is established which then shuts down the hippocampus.
    • The impact of cortisol in behavior, memory, learning, and concentration.
  • A rundown of the most common traumatic response observed in individuals and why these are especially problematic for children.
  • Intergenerational Trauma: How it is imprinted and transferred from parents to children.
    • How the environment can create changes in the genes of individuals subjected to trauma which as part of evolution is passed down to generations.
    • How pre-natal trauma and abused children in the first two years of life leads to stunted brain development resulting in the inability to bond, learn, and modulate emotions.
    • How a fetus can learn based on the mother’s behavior.
    • How learned behavior and secondary trauma make an individual more tolerant of abuse and be traumatized even more.
  • A glimpse in the stages of child brain development and its process.
  • Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACES) that illustrate how ACES influence the health and well-being of an individual from birth, childhood, and adulthood to death.
  • Other critical information related to childhood trauma that indicates:
    • A stronger traumatic response when the abuser is a caregiver.
    • Sexual violence as anything where a child doesn’t feel sexually right regardless of the act itself.
    • Symptoms of trauma being commonly diagnosed as other conditions.
  • The hierarchy of needs and how trauma results in being stuck dealing with safety and security issues and prevents an individual from progressing up the hierarchy.
  • The changes in the parts of the brain affected by trauma which disrupts its development and functions as memory, motor activity, abstract thought, and regulation of intense emotions.


Questions raised by the audience were about:

  • The possibility of reversing the effects of ACES.
  • Economic conditions indirectly inflicting trauma to a child.
  • Comparing and contrasting the impact of a traumatic event between an adult and a child.
  • How preterm birth can potentially impact a baby and how to overcome this.


This webinar is part of a three-part series:



Audience Comments:

  • “Early physical brain development explanation and impact on later behavior–MY mind blown too!” — Andrea
  • “Great Webinar!…super informative!” — Arty
  • “Duane is outstanding.” — Charlene
  • “Great presenter. Info was provided in a way that was so informative and easy to understand. Helpful information to know when working with clients. Great job!!” — Dotty
  • “How trauma affects the child’s brain growth and function which manifests as behaviors such as inability to bond, unable to modulate anger and fear and learn only in high-intensity situations because this is what their “normal’ is. WOW! It helps me understand these behaviors.” — Deanine
  • “This is by far on the best webinars and speakers to date. His knowledge and ease of topic made it easy for all to learn. I come from a home with vicious DV until the age of five and can relate to the topic. Truly an outstanding class and learned so much.” — Janette
  • “Duane is excellent. The way he explained the complex topics made them easy to understand. Looking forward to the second and third parts of the webinar. Thanks.” — Juan


Additional Resources
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