October 31, 2020

Has literature forgotten about children who experience trauma?

Eleanor Hambi

LiteratureThe Little Tree, 2020

Having experienced trauma at a very young age, I found solace in the way literature put into words what I could not. We forget that sometimes children also experience trauma. As a result, the dialectic surrounding childhood trauma through the medium of literature has become inaccessible to younger audiences as it is too ‘adult’ for them to read. There are conversations about the experiences of childhood trauma experienced, but is not for the children affected. I wanted to depict childhood trauma and its adverse effects for a younger audience accurately and honestly. Children that experience trauma do not need to be patronised by stories that do not accurately portray the severe impact of their own experiences. They need to be met half-way, with tales that describe the difficulties of experiencing scary situations but ones that are not inappropriate. I now have the words to express the thoughts and feelings I had as a child when experiencing trauma. But as a child, I had to rely on literature to word it for me. To reinclude children back into the conversation about trauma is not merely academic; it is weaponising children with the words they need to describe their thoughts and feelings.