Child and youth trauma

Child and Youth Trauma

Child and youth trauma can involve a range of negative experiences during childhood and adolescence. Trauma during this time can influence wellbeing well into adulthood, having impacts on behavior, physical and mental health, and relationships. Child and youth trauma is especially impactful when it relates to negative experiences with caregivers or other people who are meant to be a safe and comforting presence in the child’s life (this is often referred to as developmental trauma).


Resilience Scale

The resilience scale is a metaphor to explain why some people seem more resilient than others and to help visualize how to improve resilience: the ability to respond positively in the face of adversity.

- Created by The Alberta Family Wellness Initiative.

InBrief: Resilience Series

This series, composed of videos, reports, tools, and guides, provides information on resilience, such as its definition and skills to develop in order to be resilient.

- Created by the Center on the Developing Child.

What is Child Trauma?

Created by The National Child Traumatic Stress Network.

What is a traumatic event? What experiences might be traumatic? What is child traumatic stress? What are the risk and protective factors?  

Trauma Types

Created by The National Child Traumatic Stress Network.

When a child feels intensely threatened by an event he or she is involved in or witnesses, we call that event a trauma. There is a range of traumatic events or trauma types to which children and adolescents can be exposed.

Complex Trauma

Created by The National Child Traumatic Stress Network.

What it is, Effects, Screening and Assessment, Interventions.

A Guide to Toxic Stress

Created by the Center on the Developing Child.

Chances are, you’ve heard or read something about toxic stress—maybe from the media, from a physician or other medical professional, or from a family member, friend, or neighbor. You may feel overwhelmed by all of the toxic stress information out there. And, unfortunately, it’s very easy to find misleading or incorrect information. The Center on the Developing Child created this Guide to Toxic Stress to clear up the confusion and help you learn the facts about toxic stress step by step.

Guides & Facts Sheets

What is Complex Trauma? A Resource Guide for Youth and Those Who Care About Them

Created by The National Child Traumatic Stress Network.

Offers information about complex trauma, how it can impact youth, both good and harmful coping strategies, and ways to improve. This guide is for youth who have experienced complex trauma or who know someone who has. Clinicians, caregivers, and other adults can also use the guide to have conversations with youth about what complex trauma is. 

Native Children: Trauma and Its Effects

Created by the National Indian Child Welfare Association, the Child, Adolescent and Family Branch, the Center for Mental Health Services, and the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.

Provides information about trauma in Indian country, impact of trauma on Indigenous children and characteristics of trauma-informed systems.  

Violence and maltreatment

Created by The Early Childhood Observatory.

Are Quebec's youngest children safe from harm?

The Costs of Child Maltreatment in Quebec

Created by The Early Childhood Observatory.

What can we learn from data from youth protection services? 

What Is Sexual Violence?

Created by Marie-Vincent Foundation.

This page provides clear definitions of the different themes related to sexual assault and helps to distinguish them.

What Are Consequences of Sexual Violence?

Created by Marie-Vincent Foundation.

This page provides a clear understanding of the various consequences that can result from sexual abuse, including physical, emotional, psychological and academic consequences.

How Can We Prevent Sexual Violence?

Created by Marie-Vincent Foundation.

This page offers tips on how to prevent sexual violence.


How Trauma Can Impact Four Types of Memory


Trauma can have a profound impact on a person’s memory and traumatic memory can affect not only the brain, but also the body and nervous system as well. But conceptualizing how trauma can impact the different types of memory can be challenging, so this tool breaks down this process.

- Created by the National Institute for the Clinical Application of Behavioral Medicine (NICABM)

Understanding Child Trauma

Created by the National Child Traumatic Stress Initiative.

Child trauma occurs more than you think.

How to Manage Trauma

Created by the National Council for Behavioral Health.

Trauma occurs when a person is overwhelmed by events or circumstances and responds with intense fear, horror, and helplessness. Extreme stress overwhelms the person’s capacity to cope. There is a direct correlation between trauma and physical health conditions such as diabetes, COPD, heart disease, cancer, and high blood pressure.

What are ACEs and How Do They Relate to Toxic Stress?

Created by the Center on the Developing Child.

“ACEs” stands for “Adverse Childhood Experiences.” These experiences can include things like physical and emotional abuse, neglect, caregiver mental illness, and household violence.

Stress & Early Brain Growth

Created by the Positive and Adverse Childhood Experiences Connection.

Understanding Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs).

Freeze and Shutdown Trauma Responses

Created by the National Institute for the Clinical Application of Behavioral Medicine.

How to Differentiate between the Freeze and Shutdown Trauma Responses 

Why Trauma Matters in Primary Care

Created by the National Child Traumatic Stress Network.

Trauma is common.

Cultural Responsiveness to Racial Trauma

Created by the National Child Traumatic Stress Initiative.

Offers mental health providers information on understanding cultural responsiveness to racial trauma, why it matters, and what to do. This infographic includes information on what is racial trauma, what is cultural responsiveness, how did we get here, what are the effects of racial trauma and discrimination, as well as your responsibility as a mental health provider.

How Trauma Can Impact Your Window of Tolerance

Created by the National Institute for the Clinical Application of Behavioral Medicine (NICABM).

The window of tolerance is a concept originally developed by Dr. Dan Siegel, MD to describe the optimal zone of “arousal” for a person to function in everyday life. When a person is operating within this zone or window, they can effectively manage and cope with their emotions. For people who have experienced trauma, it is often difficult to regulate emotions and the zone of arousal where they can function effectively becomes quite narrow.

Mapping Your Nervous System’s Response to Trauma

Created by the National Institute for the Clinical Application of Behavioral Medicine (NICABM).

According to polyvagal theory, the nervous system has three pathways it can follow in the face of a threat. By helping clients map these pathways, they can begin to identify their triggers and develop strategies for staying grounded.

What Happens in the Brain During Trauma?

Created by the National Institute for the Clinical Application of Behavioral Medicine (NICABM).

After trauma, children are often left with many painful sensations and emotions including shame and guilt. And that’s especially true if they weren’t able to protect themselves or escape. That’s why it can be so useful to understand how their brain and body did work to protect them during the traumatic event.

Books & Articles

The Deepest Well: Healing the Long-Term Effects of Childhood Trauma and Adversity

This book is for anyone who has faced a difficult childhood, or who cares about the millions of children who do. The fascinating scientific insight and innovative, acclaimed health interventions in The Deepest Well represent vitally important hope for preventing lifelong illness for those we love and for generations to come?.

- Created by Dr. Nadine Burke Harris. 

The Boy Who Was Raised as a Dog

Created by Dr. Bruce D. Perry.

Deftly combining unforgettable case histories with his own compassionate, insightful strategies for rehabilitation, Perry explains what exactly happens to the brain when a child is exposed to extreme stress -- and reveals the unexpected measures that can be taken to ease a child's pain and help him grow into a healthy adult.

The Body Keeps the Score

Created by Dr. Bessel van der Kolk.

In The Body Keeps the Score, Dr. Bessel van der Kolk uses recent scientific advances to show how trauma literally reshapes both body and brain, compromising sufferers’ capacities for pleasure, engagement, self-control, and trust. He explores innovative treatments—from neurofeedback and meditation to sports, drama, and yoga—that offer new paths to recovery by activating the brain’s natural neuroplasticity.  

Trauma and Recovery

Created by Dr. Judith Lewis Herman.

Trauma and Recovery is revered as the seminal text on understanding trauma survivors. By placing individual experience in a broader political frame, Harvard psychiatrist Judith Herman argues that psychological trauma is inseparable from its social and political context. Drawing on her own research on incest, as well as a vast literature on combat veterans and victims of political terror, she shows surprising parallels between private horrors like child abuse and public horrors like war.  

The Role of Healthy Relational Interactions in Buffering the Impact of Childhood Trauma

Created by the Child Trauma Academy.

This article provides information on how the role of healthy relational interactions can buffer the impacts of childhood trauma.

Child Sexual Abuse, Traumatic Experiences, and Their Impacts on the Developing Brain

Created by the Child Trauma Academy.

In this article, the impacts on the developing brain of traumatic experiences, including child sexual abuse, as well as treatments and interventions are discussed. 

Maltreatment and the Developing Child: How Early Childhood Experience Shapes Child and Culture

Created by the Child Trauma Academy.

In this article, information on how early experiences of maltreatment shape children and culture, as well as prevention and solutions to child maltratment and its consequences are discussed.

The Traumagenic Neurodevelopmental Model of Psychosis Revisited

Created by the Child Trauma Academy.

This article provides information on the evidence that childhood adversities are risk factors for psychosis has accumulated rapidly. Research into the mechanisms underlying these relationships has focused, productively, on psychological processes, including cognition, attachment and dissociation. Indeed, in this article, the literature on biological mechanisms underlying the relationship between childhood trauma and psychosis published since 2001 is summarized.

Stress, Trauma and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorders in Children

Created by the Child Trauma Academy.

The purpose of this article is to provide an overview of PTSD in children. While targeted for an interdisciplinary audience, portions may be helpful to parents and caregivers living with children suffering from PTSD.

Maltreatment: A 
 the Role

Created by the Child Trauma Academy.

The purpose of this article is to examine potential mechanisms underlying the well documented and complex relationships between maltreatment in childhood and the subsequent development of psychopathology. 


How Childhood Trauma Affects Health Across a Lifetime

This videos explains that the repeated stress of abuse, neglect and parents struggling with mental health or substance abuse issues has real, tangible effects on the development of the brain. This unfolds across a lifetime, to the point where those who’ve experienced high levels of trauma are at triple the risk for heart disease and lung cancer. An impassioned plea for pediatric medicine to confront the prevention and treatment of trauma, head-on.

- Created by Dr. Nadine Burke Harris.

Understanding Complex Trauma Behaviours with Dr. Kirk Austin

In this video, Dr. Kirk Austin deepens our understanding of the ways in which complex trauma impacts seven developmental domains, and highlights effective intervention strategies.

- Created by Complex Trauma Resources.

Kanieke’ha:ke social worker on trauma

In this video, Dr. Wanda Gabriel discusses intergenerational trauma and how it is perpetrated, trauma-informed responses when working with oppressed individuals and how oppression works. 

- Created by Wanda Gabriel.

Characteristics, impacts, and interventions regarding child sexual abuse

In this video, Dr. Lise Milne provides information on the diverse characteristics of child sexual abuse as well as the possible impacts. It also gives tools on how to deal with disclosures and how to intervene to minimize deleterious effects. 

- Created by Sexual Assault Services of Sask (SASS).

The Brain Architecture Videos and Game (Paying)

This 4-to-6 player tabletop game builds an understanding of the powerful role of experience on early brain development. The goal is to build a brain that is as tall as possible, which represents functionality, and as sturdy as possible, which represents the ability to withstand stresses.

Created by The Alberta Family Wellness Initiative.

Healing Neen (Not Free)

This documentary follows the amazing recovery of Tonier "Neen" Cain from a lifetime of abuse and drug addiction to a career as a nationally-known speaker and educator on the devastation of trauma and the hope of recovery.

- Created by Laura Cain and Diana Gross.

Every Kid is One Caring Adult Away from Being a Success Story

In this video, Josh Shipp recounts his story of how he was in foster care and had all the chances of falling into the justice system, and finally encountered the family that was going to change his faith.

- Created by Josh Shipp – Center on the Developing Child.

The Child Trauma Academy Channel - SevenSlideSeries

The videos available on this Youtube channel provide information on the brain and how adverse experiences can affect brain structures, including threat response patterns, sensitization and tolerance, and much more. 

- Created by the Child Trauma Academy.

FR - Guide pratique sur le trauma complexe chez les enfants et les adolescents

This panel, presented during the 2022 Trauma Symposium, discusses a practical guide proposing several avenues of intervention to accompany children and adolescents in a sensitive manner adapted to their issues. It is intended for parents, teachers, educators, caregivers, foster families, and the various professionals who are taking care of them.

- By Marie-Ève Grisé Bolduc.

(Presentation in French).


FR - Intervention auprès des enfants et des jeunes réfugiés

This panel, presented during the 2022 Trauma Symposium, presents the CRÉDIL organization and its areas of intervention, defines the migratory paths of young refugees, discusses their perceptions of the different realities, and offers avenues for reflection on the experiences of these children.

- By Émilie Picard-Perreault & Jazmin Verdugo.

FR - Décortiquer l'hétérogénéité : les profils des jeunes adolescentes victimes d'agression sexuelle

This panel, presented during the 2022 Trauma Symposium, illustrates the fact that even within a relatively homogeneous sample (adolescent victims of sexual abuse with contact referred to youth protection), sub-groups with distinct difficulties and needs can be identified, inviting us to adopt an individualized approach adapted to the profile of each adolescent victim of sexual abuse.

- By Alexandra Matte Landry, Geneviève Paquette, Mélanie Lapalme, Isabelle Daigneault & Marc Tourigny.


Cracked Up

In Cracked Up we witness the impact adverse childhood experiences can have across a lifetime through the incredible story of actor, comedian, master impressionist and Saturday Night Live veteran, Darrell Hammond. Cracked Up creates an inspiring balance between comedy and tragedy helping us understand the effects of childhood trauma in a new light, breaking down barriers of stigma and replacing shame with compassion and hope.

-  Available on Netflix.


Experts at home

This podcast talks about the impacts of both past and present trauma as well as tools to help people heal

The Brain Architects Podcast

The Brain Architects is a new podcast from the Center on the Developing Child at Harvard University that focuses on the specific, practical questions that often arise during the critically important period of early childhood. Bringing together experts and practitioners from pediatrics, social services, and education, among other disciplines, the podcast gathers many different voices that aren’t always speaking directly to each other. The Brain Architects can help all of us can use the science of child development to improve the lives of the children we interact with every day.

- Created by the Center on the Developing Child at Harvard University

How Does Trauma Affect a Child's Brain Development?

In this podcast, information on children who have witnessed traumatic events —  domestic violence, shootings, or even fighting — and the physical impacts on brain growth that can lead to lifelong social and developmental issues are discussed. In addition, neurological effects of trauma and neglect, as well as signs and patterns of stress often found in children are identified.

- Created by The Source. 

Programs & Courses

The Brain Story Certification (Free)

Created by The Alberta Family Wellness Initiative.

This course provides a deeper understanding of brain development and its connection to addiction and mental health. The newer version of the course includes a new bibliography, a new glossary, an improved navigation system, updated videos, and reflective questions in each module.