Trauma is a toxin, you have the power to help children heal

Written by SAFE

A young girl looking at the camera.What if you turned on the news tonight and heard that a toxin was discovered in every school in Central Texas?

“Exposure causes short- and long-term damage to children’s brains and bodies … and is linked to an increase in substance abuse, suicide attempts, and a likelihood of committing mass violence,” you hear the announcer say.

Can you imagine what a nightmare that would be? We would move heaven and earth to treat kids who had been exposed.

Trauma’s toxic effects

Here are just a few stories of children who have been exposed to another kind of “toxin” — one that has those exact ill effects:

Mira is six years old. Since her exposure, she has been hitting and biting her caregivers daily. She becomes so overwhelmed by sound and people that she cannot speak. She routinely tries to escape and run into traffic.

Joshua is 14. He has been in treatment for his prolonged exposure for many years. He is afraid of kids his own age and adults. He says he “feels like a criminal” when his picture is taken. He feels unloved and unlovable.

Anna is in fifth grade. Since her exposure she has shut out her teachers and friends. Her mother was also exposed, so they are together. Anna is terrified to leave her mother’s side.

Lingering effects of trauma

Research tells us that trauma acts like a toxin on children’s bodies. Experienced over time, it changes the shape and chemistry of the growing brain.

Will you please make a gift to SAFE to provide the antidote to kids who have been deeply affected by trauma?

Unfortunately, every child in SAFE’s residential programs has already experienced extreme and prolonged exposure. It comes in many forms — domestic violence, child abuse, trafficking, sexual abuse, witnessing violence, or a combination of all of those.

If we knew our kids had been exposed to a disease that damaged their brains and bodies, we would spend millions of dollars trying to find a cure.

Instead, do you know the standard treatment for most kids who have experienced prolonged trauma like child abuse or sexual abuse?

Labeling. All too often, the kids who we serve have been labeled — “distracted,” “defiant,” “unfocused,” “disruptive” — despite the fact that those behaviors are all predictable and normal for survivors of trauma.

You can help children heal

These kids deserve so much better. They deserve to get the treatment and care they need to recover and live full, healthy lives.

Your gift to SAFE provides an environment where children can heal — through residential programs, counseling, an on-site school, group therapy, and after-school and summer programs built around their needs.

Kids who have been exposed to this toxin don’t get better on their own. Left untreated, the effects stay with them for life, threatening their health and well-being. Your donation to SAFE gives them the treatment they need to recover.

The exposure to this toxin has already happened — but you have the power to provide an antidote.