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  • Fiona Owen

Perpetuating Trauma

After watching the report from Four Corners on treatment of children in detention in the Northern Territories (25/07/16), I was highly distressed and began to reflect upon our society that allows such behaviour to occur.



These children are in detention because our societal system has not provided them with good enough nurturing and modelling to enable their behaviour to stay within the boundaries expected in society. Where does the responsibility for the behaviour of our youth belong, I wonder. Exposure to trauma inducing events is an intergenerational problem of major proportion. Much of the behaviour that is labeled as delinquent is created out of neglect and abuse and this is systemic in our society. We are all responsible. Evil happens when good people do nothing.


I work with trauma survivors and I know the process towards recovery is long and slow. Many do not embark on the journey due to fear and or ignorance. Those that do will discover how to become more fully alive. That these children are being traumatised is perpetuating the dis functional youth by then locking them up and further traumatising them. The answer is not to lock up these vulnerable offenders. The answer is to look at the core problem and again our country is ignoring this fact and choosing an expensive and counterproductive option.

I want to encourage everyone to become active in demanding change to our detention system, especially for children and realise that instead of prison guards, these children need Psychologists and Social workers to look after them.


Trauma can occur at any time. The most significant time is in childhood when children are more vulnerable and less able to protect themselves. I have found that the most important part of working with survivors of childhood trauma is for them to feel safe in the therapeutic space and to trust the therapist enough to take the risk of exploring some of their terror.

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