Harvard Educational Review
  1. Young Children and Trauma

    Intervention and Treatment

    Edited by Joy D. Osofsky

    New York: Guilford Press, 2004. 348 pp. $42.00

    Full Text:

    The maltreatment of children is a serious public health problem. In 2002, twelve out of every one thousand children were maltreated in the United States. The behavioral effects of such stress on the developing child include maladaptive “fight-or-flight” reactions to nontraumatic stress like testing, impairments to learning and concentration, and rejection by peers. Though research into the effects and treatment of exposure to violence and trauma in young children is nearly a half century old, resources on this topic have catered mainly to clinical psychologists and the research community, remaining relatively inaccessible to those within the general education community. Joy Osofsky’s edited volume, Young Children and Trauma: Intervention and Treatment, stands poised to break down those barriers by making current knowledge on early childhood trauma as user friendly as possible.

    Each section of this edited volume begins with an introduction written by Osofsky, a psychologist who is also professor of pediatrics, psychiatry, and public health at Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center and director of the Violence Intervention Program for Children and Families at the Harris Center for Infant Mental Health. Other contributors are leading experts in the field who have many years’ experience in both research and practice. Relevant, authoritative, and user friendly, this book has the potential to be both helpful in practice and informative to professionals across diverse disciplines.

    The book is divided into four main sections that move from research and theory to practice. The first section contains background information from the research literature and trauma theory that provides the reader with a lens through which to view the rest of the book. More specifically, this section is organized around three chapters that provide an overview of the effect of trauma on infants, young children, and their parents or caregivers; several cultural perspectives on trauma and traumatic experience; the impact of trauma on parent-child relationships; and children’s physiological and psychological stress systems. The second section is much longer than the first, presenting a range of state-of-the-art approaches to assessment, diagnosis, and treatment. Chapter four deals explicitly with the impact, assessment, and treatment of children who have experienced domestic violence, while the other four chapters in this section cover issues relevant to the assessment and treatment of traumatized children more generally. Broadly, this section emphasizes the importance of understanding children’s individual differences in terms of personality, temperament, and psychological resources, as well as the parent-child relationship. The third section shifts from a focus on individuals to considering the ways traumatized children can be helped through key, relevant partnerships. Importantly, both traditional and nontraditional first responders are considered, including the juvenile courts, law enforcement, and child welfare and education systems. The fourth and final section attempts to highlight potential future directions for both research and practice. It includes two chapters; one provides a comprehensive overview of existing and newly emerging research, and the other, written by Osofsky, addresses issues likely to have an impact on future directions not presented in earlier chapters.

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