Family-Induced Childhood Trauma

Learn about the issues that children, families and society are facing and how For The Children is leading the effort to change them.

Children in Care

At a glance

By age 17
1 in 3 are Incarcerated*
1 in 4 are referred for substance abuse*
1 in 4 exhibit PTSD symptoms**

By age 19
47% have not received a diploma or GED*
By age 21
42% have a homeless experience*
25% have a child*

*National Youth in Transition Database Survey, conducted between 2014-2018
**Posttraumatic Stress Disorder in Foster Care
***National Youth Foster Institute  

The Problem

Humankind suffers in two ways. It suffers from natural occurrences, such as disease, famine, and natural disasters. It also suffers from the actions of humans.

Perhaps the most insidious form of human suffering is family-induced childhood trauma (FICT). While the negative effects of wars, famine, disease, and poverty cannot be overstated, the psychological and physiological (brain) damage of a child whose parent is the cause of such suffering contributes to, at minimum, the following social ills:

  • academic failure
  • teenage pregnancy
  • substance abuse
  • sex trafficking
  • homelessness
  • incarceration
  • prison

Family-induced childhood trauma also increases the risk of the following:

  • heart disease
  • chronic lung disease
  • liver disease
  • suicide
  • physical injury
  • HIV and STDs

The effects of toxic stress due to FICT are pervasive, yet toxic stress itself is preventable. Instead of focusing only on treating the effects of trauma—the array of physical, mental, and socioeconomic consequences of toxic stress—our focus must be shifted to the prevention of childhood trauma.

Though it is impossible to measure the tremendous costs of FICT on children, families, and society, we know that they are immense.

Taking significant action is the only option. To learn more, please visit the "Our Programs" page.

The Child

Throughout childhood, every individual will experience challenges and various life stressors.

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The Family

Children do not grow and develop in isolation, but rather, they depend on the caregivers who are available to love and support them.

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The Society

The effects of toxic stress caused by family-induced childhood trauma do not simply remain contained within the family unit.

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If you or someone you know is a victim of human trafficking, please call 1-888-373-7888 ( TTY: 711)

ChildHelp National Child Abuse Hotline 1.800.4.A.CHILD (1.800.422.4453)

National Domestic Violence Hotline: Call 1.800.799.SAFE (7233)