How can we identify trauma in children?

Children in conflict areas around Kenya have experienced trauma in one way or another. Parents and guardians are often not sure how to identify signs of trauma. Many children and young people find it difficult to deal with the effects of traumatic experiences and they end up losing track of life. Knowing how to identify trauma can help ensuring these children get support.

A story by Evans 


So, what is trauma? Trauma refers to an experience which is emotionally painful, distressful or shocking. It often has lasting mental and physical effects. It is not always the event that determines whether something is traumatic, but the individual’s experience of the event. The world is too often shaken by traumatic events such as natural and manmade disasters, war and terrorism, school and community violence, accidents, kidnappings and various other forms of abuse. Children who are directly exposed to such events can become traumatized. The emotional impact of trauma can last a very long time if it goes unnoticed. Children can also be negatively impacted by seeing other people who are dealing with trauma. Check out the table below to learn how to identify trauma!

Numbers show that violence against children is a serious problem in Kenya. Levels of violence prior to age 18 as reported by 18 to 24 year olds (lifetime experiences) indicate that during childhood, 32% of females and 18% of males experience sexual violence. 66% of females and 73% of males experienced physical violence and 26% of females and 32% of males experience any violence as a child. 13% of females and 9% of males experienced all three types of violence during childhood.

But there is hope

“Childline Kenya fields calls on a wide range of cases – sexual, physical and emotional abuse and neglect. The helpline is attached to a referral network of supporting organizations that provide psychosocial support to children who call and are in need of care and protection.”
Read here more about the positive change in a trauma survivor’s life, lead by the involvement of Childline Kenya’s counsellors.

“In the future, I want to become a fighter,” she says, “a fighter for children’s rights like the people who helped me.”