Bill providing traumatized children with support is even more important now

Photo Courtesy of US Department of Homeland Security, Wiki

Sen. Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.) and Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) introduced RISE from Trauma Act on June 16, but it has proven to be necessary now more than ever. The bipartisan act would provide $600 million annually to expand support for children who have undergone traumatic experiences and address how violence plays into it. 

“To effectively treat the root causes of violence and addiction in our communities, we must focus on the impact that exposure to violence and traumatic experiences have on children,” Sen. Durbin said in a press release. “Unaddressed trauma can harm mental and physical health, life expectancy, school success, and employment, so we must take serious action to prevent the ripple effect that trauma can have.”

Trauma is defined as an emotional response to a deeply distressing experience. Living with trauma has a lasting impact on the individual and proves difficult when trying to navigate life. This is especially true if trauma has been inflicted on a child during their developmental stages. 

According to the Children’s Defense Fund, research suggests how exposure to trauma drastically affects children’s neurological and behavioral development. It has a high risk of inflicting negativity on their education, mental health, homelessness, incarceration and overall physical health throughout their lifetime.

The ultimate goal of the bill is to take the weight off children who have experienced the emotional weight of community violence and other traumatic experiences. This would be done through expanding trauma-informed forces within the healthcare, justice and education system. It will even increase trauma-based resources across communities and social services. 

“Our bipartisan legislation invests in communities and the workforce to support children and families facing trauma to heal their emotional scars and build a brighter future for our communities,” Durbin said.

With the coronavirus pandemic causing death tolls to rise worldwide, a larger number of children have been exposed to trauma in recent years as they continue to witness loved ones being taken by the disease. This is particularly true in low-income communities that often lack the resources required for children to develop fully. 

Senior social work major Emily Zames believes the act is important now more than ever. “It will provide resources to communities, especially poor communities and communities of color. These communities will finally get the resources they deserve after decades of systemic racism. These communities suffer from the most trauma and need the most support,” said Zames. 

Zames said that as a social work major, she personally interns in a community that mostly houses people of color.      

“I intern in a community with drugs, gangs, violence, and mental health trauma, so this act will be a huge help to these people. Because of this act, there will be resources out there for people who are suffering with trauma rather than them having to turn to violence or drugs. And that is what social work is all about: providing vulnerable population resources and creating a safer and healthier community,” said Zames. 

The bill would prioritize communities facing high volumes of trauma such as intergenerational poverty, oppression, civil unrest, discrimination and more.

Sen. Cory Booker has already cosponsored the bill while Sen. Robert Menendez has made no comment. Constituents are urged to contact their senators to push this bill forward.