Childhood Trauma and Art


Self-esteem is a huge issue for teenagers. For some people, low self-esteem could easily turn into a really bad cycle of mistreatment and abuse — and a situation that’s hard to get out of.

Abby (not her real name), is a 16-year-old Lilburn, Georgia, native who grew up with low self-esteem and ended up in a relationship with a guy who used her emotionally and psychologically. That led to her being sexually exploited for about a year. Abby is among the thousands of sexual exploited victims in the US and among the millions of victims around the world.

The statistic of children with high ACEs score in the US (below figure) is alarming. The good news is that it has been recognized by many experts. Studies are being done and experts are formulating plans to combat this dangerous phenomenon.  To save our children from being exploited sexually like Abby, we must help young children build a healthy self-esteem before they reach their teen and become easy victims.

12.5% of kids (0-17) has ACEs score of 4 or higher

According to Dr. Felitti (co-author of the ACEs study with the CDC),
If your ACE score is 4, you are:

  • 3600% more likely to become injection drug (ie: heroine) user.
  • 1200% greater likelihood of attempting suicide as an adult (2900% at ACE of 6).
  • 1200% more likely to be a sexual assault victim.
  • 1000% more likely to inject street drugs.
  • 700% more likely to become an alcoholic.
  • 600% more likely to have sex before age 15.
  • 500% more likely to have multiple marriages.
  • 400% greater likelihood of emphysema or chronic bronchitis.
  • 300% more likely to contract HIV.
  • 300% more likely to become a domestic violent victim (women); 150% (men).
  • 300% greater likelihood of struggling with chronic depression.
  • 240% greater risk of hepatitis.
  • 240% higher risk of sexually transmitted disease.
  • 200% more likely to become smokers.
  • 200% greater likelihood of severe obesity.
  • 150% more likely to have heart disease.
  • 51% of ACE score of 4 will have behavioral problems in school.

The amazing healing power of art according to Dr. Bessel van der Kolk, a world renowned Psychiatrist and Childhood Trauma Expert and Founder of Trauma Center

Dr. Bessel van der Kolk told a story of Noam whose school was near the Twin Tower of the World Trade Center in New York City and saw the first plane slam into the tower during the infamous September 11th, 2001 terrorist attack. Next day, Noam drew what he had witnessed including seeing people jumping to their death. But, he added a trampoline at the bottom of the tower because, Noam said, next time people would have to jump, it would keep them safe. Noam experienced terrible trauma. But the support of his family and his creative imagination prevented him from experiencing PTSD. He used his imagination to create a different future which helped him move forward with his life. Art helps Noam express his imagination and cope with terrible trauma.

There are many success stories like Noam. The healing power of art is well studied and proven. Below are a couple stories we have direct knowledge of.  The experts who help children coping with trauma also weigh in on the usefulness of this backpack.

Art heals

“Brick in My Backpack” is a story of a mother & daughter, who are victims of domestic abuse, trying to help themselves work through the emotions via conversations, arts, and myriad of other means.

“It’s magical,” a 7-year old girl, whose father committed suicide recently, said after her grandmother gave her this backpack.

(Picture is for illustration purpose only)

What Childhood Trauma Experts say: