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Children and teenagers

A child, like an adult, can suffer from psychotrauma. Indeed, traumatic events do not spare children: accidents, aggressions, school harassment, mistreatment, intra-family violence, sexual abuse, incest, attacks, wars, migrations, natural disasters, attacks by animals, violent death of relatives, accidents, etc. These events can leave deep psychological wounds. A single traumatic event can cause post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). On the other hand, if the traumatic event is repeated or lasts for a long time without the child being able to escape or protect himself, the child's development is affected. This is called a traumatic developmental disorder. However, this is not a fatality: it is possible to get better and be treated.

→ 1 in 10 children are victims of harassment, abuse or violence.

→ 80% of violence occurs within families.

→ Only 1 in 10 children disclose the violence they have experienced.

→ 1 in 5 girls and 1 in 13 boys report being sexually abused as children. Of these, 1 in 2 children are victims of incest before the age of 10.

→ Children with disabilities are 4 times more likely to be victims of violence than other children.

Le 119

The telephone line 119, is the national hotline for children in danger. It is open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, free of charge and calls are confidential. Calls from children and adolescents are given priority. At the end of the line, the callers are child protection professionals, trained to listen, support and act. In addition to the "119 Allô enfance en danger" telephone line, a chat room is open to minors and young adults under the age of 21, 7 days a week. The hours are indicated on the site.

Any person who witnesses or suspects that a child is in danger or at risk of being in danger must report the facts. This can be the legal representative of the minor, a member of his or her entourage or a professional (social worker, doctor, etc.). This is a legal obligation.

The easiest way is to call 119 where child protection professionals will listen to you and then transmit the information to the Cellule de recueil des informations préoccupantes (CRIP) of the department concerned and take the necessary measures in case of imminent danger for the child.

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From birth, a child can be affected by a traumatic event. In the first few days, the child may relive the event without wanting to in the form of nightmares, flashes, thoughts. They may also avoid anything that reminds them of the traumatic event. They may also feel constantly alert. If these signs last for more than a month and the child is unable to resume his or her usual life at home or at school, it is time to consult your doctor or your child's pediatrician, who will be able to refer you to a center near you.

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The signs of PTSD in an adolescent are similar to those of an adult: reliving, hypervigilance, avoidance of anything that reminds them of the traumatic event. They may also experience sudden mood swings, become more isolated, cut themselves off from friends or become more aggressive. He or she may be oppositional, appear selfish and insensitive to the feelings of others. They may also develop addictions. A teenager may be more reluctant to talk about what has happened. Parents, teachers and friends should be alert to any changes in behavior to encourage them to come out of isolation and, if difficulties persist beyond a month, to seek help from a health professional.

Good to know

→ Counseling is subject to joint parental authority. If one of the parents objects, his or her disagreement must be explicit. In case of conflict between the parents, it is up to the Family Court to decide.

Note that the agreement of both parents is not required for the psychological evaluation of the child.

→ However, this agreement is not required to find help at the House of Adolescents near your home or to call 119.


Interview de Lise Eilin Stene pour les adolescents

Doctor of Medicine and researcher at the Norwegian Centre for Violence and Traumatic Stress Studies.


As an adult today, I experienced a traumatic event as a child

Sometimes traumatic events experienced as a child will leave traces into adult life. This is particularly the case when the experience of trauma was not a single event but rather multiple, chronic and prolonged, such as domestic violence, incest, sexual exploitation or harassment.

The difficulties then seem to be inherited from childhood and can now be compounded by risky behaviors and/or addictions, lead to suicidal thoughts and generally alter the quality of life. Repeated early trauma can also trigger other disorders for which ongoing treatment must be continued. We are not doomed by our traumatic childhood. If the sooner the better, it is never too late to treat a psychotrauma.

Relatives and companions

When a child suffers from PTSD after a traumatic event, the overall balance of the family is upset . The child needs even more loving attention and support than usual during this time. Supporting a child with PTSD is a long-term process. There are often periods of improvement but also periods of decline. Often, the family is constantly worried about the possible after-effects of the traumatic event on the child. The traumatic event puts a strain on the mental health of everyone close to the victim. However, it is possible to take care of yourself and your loved ones.



Teachers, educators or professionals in contact with children and adolescents experiencing psychotrauma may think that they are protected from the impact of traumatic events experienced by the child being monitored thanks to professional reflexes and skills.

However, certain situations, especially by their repetition or violence, can destabilize even the most experienced, sometimes years later. Professionals may suffer from vicarious PTSD, i.e. PTSD caused by a traumatic event not experienced directly but through the suffering of another. They may also experience compassion fatigue.

Live better

Taking care of yourself to take care of others

However, it is important not to remain alone and to exchange with your colleagues and your hierarchy.

If necessary, contact the occupational health department, mental health professionals and the medical-psychological emergency unit near you (CUMP).

You can also seek psychological support.

After your work time, it is important to take care of yourself as best as possible: listen to yourself and take care of your sleep and rest time, maintain activities and relationships that are important to you, and be attentive to your lifestyle and balance.

Cultural resources

The Kintsugi Bear, Victoire de Changy and Marine Schneider, Cambourakis, 2019.

Discover all the cultural recommendations.

Cultural resources
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