The impacts of trauma are devastating for individuals, families, and organizations. At ICTG, we are concerned about these many events and their broad scope of impact on communities today. We champion the role of congregations in countering those impacts and fostering resilience in their communities. And we are particularly concerned about the impact of trauma on children because children are our future community leaders – studies make clear that the care they receive today directly correlates with their abilities to thrive and lead tomorrow.
This information comes from the ACEstudy, the largest investigation ever conducted to assess associations between adverse childhood experiences and later-life health. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, a partner in the study:
"It is critical to understand how some of the worst health and social problems in our nation can arise as a consequence of adverse childhood experiences. Realizing these connections is likely to improve efforts towards prevention and recovery."
Renowned children's programming creator, Fred Rogers understood long ago what researchers are underscoring today: Whole community care and congregational growth start with care of children. In 1986, Mr. Rogers wrote an article about when children face disasters. In it, he recalls when he was young his mother used to say, "Always look for the helpers," whenever something troubling occurred. "There's always someone who is trying to help."
Long before the ACEstudy findings were published, Mr. Rogers and his colleagues knew the vital role that caring adults play in fostering resilience among children and youth.
"After World War II, a group of British psychiatrists and psychologists studied the lingering effects of the London bombings on young children. The findings of the study were complex and reflected the individuality of human nature, but one strong theme emerged again and again: The children who were best able to resolve their feelings of terror about that time in their lives were the children who were not separated from their [caregivers]"
For Mr. Rogers, this study suggests that "by far the most immediate and urgent concerns of early childhood have more to do with the consistency of close relationships than with events – no matter how traumatizing adults may believe those events to be."
He believed that one of the surest ways to keep scars to a minimum is for caregivers to understand that what's most important to young children is to be with the people they love, to know they are available, and to help them see that the world is peopled with many concerned and caring adults. In other words, one of the best ways we help children thrive after trauma is by being caring adults.
In his final broadcast, recorded on the first anniversary of 9/11, shortly before he died, Mr. Rogers thanked you for being a helper and for making the world around you safe for children.
Whether you're an ordained minister or a lay leader looking for information, training, or people to connect with, or you're someone wanting to volunteer time, talent, or finances to ICTG, the fact that you are here, visiting this website, shows that you are a helper.
Your passion for healing and safety make a big difference in the world today.
As helpers in the world today, we can affirm together the importance of realizing these connections. We know that congregations can be excellent locations for fostering care and creating health in the world today.
To learn more about becoming safe, caring congregations, explore the ICTG libraries of articles, books, guidelines, and films. To help ICTG continue providing resources like these, donate to support new tools and programs.