ACE children and emotional bond with animals

I am interested in the bond and emotional connection between children who experience trauma and animals.  How can animals help heal their past trauma? I have a junior high student who wants to do a tiny research study on animals and their ability to heal wounded children.  Any resources will be greatly appreciated.  

 

Original Post

Hi Holly,
This is an interesting topic.  My kids benefited from their participation in Equi-Ed a therapeutic equestrian program in Santa Rosa CA. 

Good Therapy also published an article titled What Horses Have to Do with Trauma and Recovery.  Attached please find one research article, I am sure there are more!  Also attached is a slide deck from a NCHPAD conference that discusses the intersection between trauma and equine therapy.  

While these resources will help round out your understanding and provide a bit of background, a Junior High School student might find this information from 4H Youth Development more useful and age appropriate:  4H Guide Dog Project

Additionally, there is a special place in Santa Rosa called Forget Me Not Farm that has partnered with the local Humane Society and provides a safe place for at-risk children and animals to bond and "break the cycle of abuse".  Their contact information is available on their website.

Going forward, I hope you will share a follow up note about how this project evolves - from both the perspective of the youth - and from your perspective - and maybe include a bit of insight into how ACEs science and trauma informed practices help support resilience for this youth and others! 

Thanks again for posting your question! 

Attachments

Karen, thank you so much for your quick reply.  I meet with this student tonight, and these responses are helpful as well as your support for the project.  My personal interest is for the long term impact on children who have witnessed their pets abused in domestic confrontations.  I understand that 60% of women in shelters say their pets were abused.  They stay to protect them.  Also, the children at the shelter (30?%) report that they witnessed it as well.  A percentage of those grow up to abuse and or kill their animals.  Very sad.  I want to work with veterinarians to be aware of abusive interactions and how to report it.  Thank you.

Hi Holly,

The Healing Species is a violence prevention/compassion education program reaching youth with the help of rescued dogs. It may not be exactly what you're looking for, but they might have some resources around healing with animals. 

http://www.healingspecies.com/

Also, if you look up pet assisted therapy or animal assisted therapy programs in your state, they'll most likely have some statistics or helpful information. :-D

Holly Crump, When I worked for N.H.'s statewide Homeless Outreach Intervention Project, over 30% of my first year caseload involved 'Domestic Violence'. Because of funding limits, my territory was 'expanded', my third year, from one county to two counties, one of which had an animal shelter that would avail 'visitation space' for up to 60 days to homeless and Domestic Violence shelter guests who had animals-that were not permitted at the homeless shelter. The D.V. shelter near my current residence permits animals, and had a puppy ['on staff'] who comforted many adult and child clients...

Holly H. Crump posted:

Karen, thank you so much for your quick reply.  I meet with this student tonight, and these responses are helpful as well as your support for the project.  My personal interest is for the long term impact on children who have witnessed their pets abused in domestic confrontations.  I understand that 60% of women in shelters say their pets were abused.  They stay to protect them.  Also, the children at the shelter (30?%) report that they witnessed it as well.  A percentage of those grow up to abuse and or kill their animals.  Very sad.  I want to work with veterinarians to be aware of abusive interactions and how to report it.  Thank you.

Hi Holly:

"Not long ago, I reported on a related study by McDonald that found one-quarter of children whose mothers experience domestic violence also see their pet threatened or abused, and that most often the child says the motivation is to control the mother." From: https://psmag.com/news/the-eff...l-health-of-children

And even when there's not animal abuse and torture (actual or threatened), there are kids who have undo responsibility for pets (worry about feeding, vets, etc. with little or no way to get those needs met) or who worry for and have to find pets that go missing or aren't potty trained etc. So, for kids, it's a complex issue.

I think working with vets is a good idea. I have to say though, in families where there is a lot of abuse and neglect, pets (or kids) are not necessarily getting to  the doctor's office. If seen, it's likely by emergency rooms or on-call clinics. But there's also a lot of neglect.

However, for those animals that get to a vet, it would be great to have awareness of ACEs and a broader perspective for staff.

All that said. AND there can be so much love, joy, companionship in childhood (and beyond) making life and love richer, better and stronger because of what is learned loving, being loved by and caring for animals.

When I think of what went right for me in childhood that helped buffer against ACEs I always thinks of pets and the unconditional open page. Those two things (and the fact that school, for me, was safe) all helped so much). 
Plus, there's so much healing that can happen WITH animals. Here's some quotes form a cool woman.

This one woman is doing some amazing work. 

https://southshoresenior.com/2...s-horses-for-heroes/

Sounds like you are doing great work as well!

Cissy 

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Robert OlcottKaren ClemmerLaura Pinhey
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