Addressing Trauma in a Diverse Head Start Sample: Relevance for Practitioners

Marla Pfenninger Saint Gilles, John Carlson


This study investigated the prevalence and types of traumatic events experienced by an ethnically diverse sample of Head Start preschoolers (ages 3-5), as rated by their parents and caregivers (N=66).  The study also examined how experiencing trauma varies by ethnicity.  Traumatic impact as influenced by the child’s age when the event happened, number of different events experienced (polyvictimization), and frequency of experiencing events is discussed.  Eighty-five percent of children had experienced trauma.  There were no ethnic differences in trauma prevalence.  Caregivers rated traumatic impact as more severe for children who had experienced multiple types of events and for those who experienced traumatic events more frequently.  The importance of addressing trauma exposure within the Head Start classroom setting is discussed.

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This journal is a publication of the NHSA and the CEME at UNC Charlotte.