Identifying, Preventing, and Treating Childhood Trauma: Pervasive Public Health Issue that Needs Greater Federal Attention

Thursday, July 11, 2019 - 10:00am
2154 Rayburn House Office Building, Washington, DC 20515
Identifying, Preventing, and Treating Childhood Trauma: A Pervasive Public Health Issue that Needs Greater Federal Attention



The Committee will hear directly from trauma survivors, public health experts, and government officials to examine the long-term consequences of childhood trauma and the insufficiency of the federal response to this urgent public health issue. 

First panel witnesses will share their personal stories of trauma, healing, and advocacy.

Second panel witnesses are experts who will discuss the prevalence of childhood trauma and the limited nature of current federal initiatives to prevent childhood trauma and to treat those who have experienced it.


  • Childhood trauma is a pervasive public health issue with long-term negative health effects that cost the United States billions of dollars.

  • The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and Kaiser Permanente conducted a landmark study that found adults who had suffered “adverse childhood experiences” were at much higher risk for leading causes of death in the United States, including heart disease, cancer, chronic lower respiratory disease, and suicide. 

  • Extensive research demonstrates that exposure to community violence, homelessness, unsafe neighborhoods, bullying, racial and ethnic discrimination, income insecurity, natural disasters, intergenerational trauma, or historical trauma also increases the likelihood of negative health outcomes.

  • A comprehensive federal approach is needed that both recognizes the impact of childhood trauma and takes concrete steps towards prevention and treatment.

  • Congress recently passed legislation that recognizes the severe consequences of childhood trauma, but current programs and initiatives are insufficient to address this public health issue.

  • Some states and localities are implementing promising programs to prevent and treat childhood trauma that can inform federal solutions.

  • GAO recently issued a report on Children Affected by Trauma that reviewed the various approaches and challenges to supporting children affected by trauma in six states. GAO found that “Trauma is a widespread, harmful, and costly public health problem, and is especially detrimental to children.”


Panel One

Mr. William Kellibrew
The William Kellibrew Foundation

Ms. Heather Martin
Executive Director and Co-Founder
The Rebels Project

Mr. Justin Miller
Deputy Executive Director
Objective Zero Foundation

Ms. Creeana Rygg
Survivor and Activist

Panel Two

Dr. Debra Houry
Director, National Center for Injury Prevention & Control
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Mr. James Henry
Former Deputy Governor & Chief of Staff
State of Tennessee

Mr. Charles Patterson
Health Commissioner
Clark County, Ohio

Dr. Christina Bethell
Child and Adolescent Health Measurement Initiative

Dr. Denese Shervington
Clinical Professor of Psychiatry
Tulane University School of Medicine

116th Congress