Child trauma: surviving structural violence in America
Patrick, Samantha JoAnn
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The definitions of trauma and trauma behavior are expansive and have continued to grow in the past century. While biomedicine continues to expand the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual for cultural competency and subjective experience, the concept of trauma is still limited to certain behavior and events determined by hegemonic views. This becomes detrimental to families and children exposed to everyday instances of structural violence. Looking at major child care sectors— the education system, biomedical care, and the family unit—to understand the influences of biopower and the consequences of structural violence, data collected from the greater Boston area reveals the consequences of structural violence on both child behavior and the manifestation of trauma. This thesis reexamines the social construct of trauma and trauma behavior, and uses its own term, structural trauma, to account for the social frameworks that create a legitimacy deficit for the trauma-related behaviors children embody. Examination of these three main child care sectors and the barriers that contribute to, or try to deconstruct, structural trauma reveals that these institutions have organized themselves into a pastoral apparatus that can prove to be more harmful than helpful for addressing child trauma and family well-being. Through structural trauma, researchers and society can gain further insight on how policies and practices create additional, unintentional vulnerabilities in underserved populations, consequently inhibiting healing and understanding amongst families and institutions.