Youth Traumatic Experiences

All of the youth traumatic experiences items are static indicators. In other words, these items indicate whether or not a youth has experienced a particular trauma. If they youth has ever had one of these experiences it would always be rated in this section, even if the experience was not currently causing problems or distress in the youth’s life. Thus, these items are not expected to change except in the case that the youth has a new trauma experience or a historical trauma is identified that was not previously known.

Question to consider for this domain: Has the youth experienced adverse life events that may impact their behavior?


This item describes the youth’s experience of sexual abuse.

Questions to Consider

  • Has the caregiver or youth disclosed sexual abuse?
  • How often did the abuse occur?
  • Did the abuse result in physical injury?


This item describes the youth’s experience of physical abuse.

Questions to Consider

  • Is physical discipline used in the home? What forms?
  • Has the youth ever received bruises, marks, or injury from discipline?


This item rates whether the youth has experienced verbal and nonverbal emotional abuse, including belittling, shaming, and humiliating a child, calling names, making negative comparisons to others, or telling a child that they are, “no good.”  This item includes both “emotional abuse,” which would include psychological maltreatment such as insults or humiliation towards a child and “emotional neglect,” described as the denial of emotional attention and/or support from caregivers.

Questions to Consider

  • How do the members of the family talk to/interact with each other?
  • Is there name calling or shaming in the home?


This rating describes whether or not the youth has experienced neglect. Neglect can refer to a lack of food, shelter or supervision (physical neglect), lack of access to needed medical care (medical neglect), or failure to receive academic instruction (educational neglect).

Questions to Consider

  • Are the youths’ basic needs for food and shelter being met?
  • Is the youth allowed access to necessary medical care? Education?


This item rates the youth’s experience of medically related trauma, including inpatient hospitalizations, outpatient procedures, and significant injuries.

Questions to Consider

  • Has the youth had any broken bones, stitches or other medical procedures?
  • Has the youth had to go to the emergency room, or stay overnight in the hospital?

Supplemental Information: This item takes into account the impact of the event on the youth.  It describes experiences in which the youth is subjected to medical procedures that are experiences as upsetting and overwhelming.  A youth born with physical deformities who is subjected to multiple surgeries could be included.  A youth who must experience chemotherapy or radiation could also be included.  Youth who experience an accident and requires immediate medical intervention that results in on-going physical limitations or deformities (e.g., burn victims) could be included here.  Common medical procedures, which are generally not welcome or pleasant but are also not emotionally or psychologically overwhelming for children (e.g., shots, pills) would generally not be rated here.


This rating describes the severity of exposure to family, school or community violence.

Questions to Consider

  • Has any the youth ever been the victim of a crime?
  • Has the youth seen criminal activity in his/her community, school or home?


This rating describes the youth’s exposure to either natural or manmade disasters.

Questions to Consider

  • Has the youth been present during a natural or man-made disaster?
  • Does the youth watch television shows containing these themes or overhear adults talking about these kinds of disasters?


This rating describes the degree of severity of exposure to war, political violence, torture or terrorism.

Questions to Consider

  • Has the youth or their family lived in a war torn region?
  • How close was the youth to war or political violence, torture or terrorism?
  • Was the family displaced?

Supplemental Information:  Terrorism is defined as “the calculated use of violence or the threat of violence to inculcate fear, intended to coerce or to intimidate governments or societies in the pursuit of goals that are generally political, religious or ideological.” Terrorism includes attacks by individuals acting in isolation (e.g. sniper attacks).


This rating describes the severity of exposure to criminal activity.  Criminal behavior includes any behavior for which an adult could go to prison including drug dealing, prostitution, assault, or battery.

Questions to Consider

  • Has the youth or someone in their family ever been the victim of a crime?
  • Has the youth seen criminal activity the community or home?

Supplemental Information:  Any behavior that could result in incarceration is considered criminal activity.  A youth who has been sexually abused or witnesses a sibling being sexually abused or physically abused to the extent that assault charged could be filed would be rated here and on the appropriate abuse-specific items.  A youth who has witnessed drug dealing, prostitution, assault or battery would also be rated on this item.


This item documents the extent to which a youth has had one or more major changes in caregivers, potentially resulting in disruptions in attachment.
Questions to Consider

  • Has the youth ever lived apart from their parents/caregivers?
  • What happened that resulting in the youth living apart from their parents/caregivers?

Supplemental Information: Youth who have had placement changes, including stays in foster care, residential treatment facilities or juvenile justice settings, can be rated here. Short-term hospital stays or brief juvenile detention stays, during which the youth’s caregiver remains the same, would not be rated on this item.  Death of a caregiver would also be captured in this item.