When a child suffers personal injury as the result of an abuse by an adult, Child Protective Services will intervene to prevent more injuries to the child. However when a child suffers emotional trauma, child welfare workers often lack knowledge and basic training on the neurology of trauma and the factors that will promote brain resilience. As a result, children are often placed in homes that are not appropriate for their well being and healing.
In a recent article, Susan Radcliffe, LCSW-C, a mental health therapist and a clinical social worker at the Dorchester County Health Department, Cambridge, MD and Daniel Pollack, MSSA (MSW), JD, an attorney and professor at Yeshiva University’s School of Social Work, look at the case of a Child Protective Service worker who after being informed by a mental health therapist that a boy placed in a safety home alleged that his “emergency plan safety parents” were physically fighting decided the boy should remain in the home. When the mental health therapist questioned the decision, The Child Protective Services worker replied “What do you want me to do?”. She also said she was following her training.
The article provides an in-depth explanation on how, during an emotional trauma the limbic system of the brain produces cortisol, a stress hormone that provides energy to respond to danger. For example if a car is speeding toward an individual, the cortisol will give the person the energy to respond to the danger and quickly get out of the way.
When children sustain frequent emotional trauma, their limbic system produces too much cortisol and gets damaged. Over time the cortisol affects some of the brain functions impacting their learning abilities, their memory, the regulation of their emotions, their impulsivity, their judgement and their executive functioning.
The complete article can be downloaded here