U of S researcher highlights prevalence of and treatment for childhood trauma on UN's Children's Day

With United Nations Children's Day on November 20, a University of Saskatchewan researcher is providing a stark reminder that children suffer interpersonal trauma at disturbingly high rates, often with lasting results.

Jorden Cummings, assistant professor of psychology in the College of Arts and Science, studies the effects of trauma on children and their caregivers in the Social Science Research Laboratory's (SSRL) Video Therapy Analysis Lab (ViTAL). According the most recent Canadian Incident Study of Reported Abuse and Neglect, each year almost two per cent of Canadian children experience sexual abuse, physical abuse, emotional and psychological abuse, or witness domestic violence.

Current research shows that victims of childhood trauma are at increased risk for mental health concerns such as post-traumatic stress disorder, substance abuse and suicide. Their caregivers also often experience substantial distress and issues such as anxiety and depression. This can lead to impaired parenting following the trauma their child experienced.

However, research also shows that healthy and supportive parents and caregivers play a critical role in the aftermath of traumatic events, and can greatly decrease the likelihood of these events leading to long-term issues.

Cumming's research, funded by the Saskatchewan Health Research Foundation (SHRF), evaluates the effectiveness of therapies designed to help parents and caregivers of child trauma victims. The effectiveness of such therapies is critical for the long-term health of both the child and parent or caregiver.

"How well a parent copes after his or her child experiences trauma directly influences how resilient that child can be," says Cummings. "However, there are no therapies that directly address parent's and children's needs. My research is addressing this gap."

Cummings uses ViTAL's videoconferencing capabilities and multi-angle cameras to analyze how individuals, such as children with post-traumatic stress disorder and their caregivers, interact in therapy sessions. She says the lab fills an important gap that in Saskatchewan's health care system, and her long-term goal is to develop integrated therapies that will treat children and parents together. More information can be found at the

U of S Stress and Wellness Lab's website: http://www.stressandwellnesslab.com/.


For more information, contact:

Jorden Cummings

Assistant Professor

Psychology, 306-966-7147

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