Now available: Two trauma screening forms for children!

For children, experiencing a traumatic event—such as physical or sexual abuse, neglect, victimization by a peer, the death of a parent, witnessing a violent act, experiencing a natural disaster, and more—can have devastating and lasting psychological effects.

According to the National Children’s Alliance, child abuse victims experience trauma symptoms like fear, sleep disturbances, anxiety, and depression at rates verging on those experienced by war veterans. In addition, they are more likely to perform poorly in school, have behavior problems at home, and, left untreated, have poor long-term mental and physical health.

Getting these children the help and healing they need has historically relied on the results of a forensic interview. However, clinical intake evaluation results can vary based on the clinician’s training and experience, and the time involved in administering and scoring standardized tests often precludes their use in settings like children’s advocacy centers, which see large numbers of children in relatively short periods of time.

The Trauma Symptom Checklist for Children (TSCC) Screening Form and Trauma Symptom Checklist for Young Children (TSCYC) Screening Form were developed based on a critical need for standardized screening measures that can quickly evaluate trauma symptomology and risk in children who have experienced abuse or trauma.

The one-page carbonless screening forms, which are also available in Spanish, take just 5 minutes to administer and score and can be used to assist practitioners in the field with the treatment referral process.

Derived from the full-form TSCC (a 54-item self-report for youth ages 8 to 17 years) and TSCYC (a 90-item caretaker report for children ages 3 to 12 years), both the TSCC and TSCYC screening forms include 12 items and two subscales—General Trauma and Sexual Concerns—that are scored separately. Selected items were best at predicting overall trauma and sexual-related symptomology within their respective normative samples on the full forms.

These new TSCC and TSCYC screening forms are reliable and valid measures that quickly indicate whether a child or youth is at risk for a clinically significant psychological disturbance. This helps clinicians determine the need for follow-up testing and can help children get on the path toward healing.  

You may know the Trauma Symptom Checklist for Young Children (TSCYC) evaluates acute and chronic posttraumatic symptomatology in young children in just 15 to 20 minutes. Here are five things you may not know.

  1. The TSCYC is the first fully standardized and normed broadband trauma measure for young children ages 3-12 years who have been exposed to traumatic events such as child abuse, peer assault, and community violence.

  2. The TSCYC is customizable: The test features a caretaker report that rates symptoms observed during the previous month and includes separate profile forms for males and females in three age groups: ages 3-4 years, ages 5-9 years, and ages 10-12 years.

  3. The TSCYC is reliable and valid: It meets the new 2017 standards for use in Children’s Advocacy Centers.

  4. The TSCYC has free online training. Get up to speed quickly with a short instructional video describing the administration, scoring, and interpretation of the TSCYC—available at no charge on the PAR Training Portal.

  5. The TSCYC is convenient. Administer and score with paper and pencil or 24/7 via PARiConnect, our online assessment platform.


Learn more about the TSCYC!
You may know the Trauma Symptom Checklist for Children (TSCC) evaluates posttraumatic stress symptomatology in individuals 8 to 16 years old. Here are five things you may not know:

  1. The TSCC is comprehensive: The TSCC measures posttraumatic stress and related psychological symptomology in children and adolescents  who have experienced traumatic events such as physical or sexual abuse, major loss, and natural disasters.

  2. The TSCC is customizable: The test features separate self-report profile forms for males and females, with items for ages 8-12 years on one side and items for ages 13-16 years on the other side. An alternate form, the TSCC-A, makes no reference to sexual issues.

  3. The TSCC is reliable and valid: It meets the new 2017 standards for use in Children’s Advocacy Centers.

  4. The TSCC has free online training. Get up to speed quickly with a short instructional video describing the administration, scoring, and interpretation of the TSCC—available at no charge on the PAR Training Portal.

  5. The TSCC is convenient. Administer and score with paper and pencil or 24/7 via PARiConnect, our online assessment platform.

According to a new study conducted at Princeton University, many survivors of 2005’s Hurricane Katrina are still struggling with poor mental health even today, years after the storm.

Lead researcher Christina Paxson and her team began this project in 2003 as a study of low-income adults enrolled in community college. They used sites around the country for their research, three of those sites were located in New Orleans. Their original questionnaire asked participants for their opinions on topics related to education, income, families, and health.

After Hurricane Katrina hit in August 2005, the researchers decided to continue to track the New Orleans-based participants because the type of information they had was very rare in disaster studies, as they already knew much about the individual’s mental and physical health. In most disaster studies, researchers are never able to determine if the participants are suffering because of the disaster or because they already had underlying conditions that would have led to poor mental health even before the disaster hit.

With data collected one year before, 7-19 months after, and 43-54 months post-Katrina, they found that although symptoms of posttraumatic stress and psychological distress declined over time, these symptoms were still high 43-54 months after the storm. They also found that damage to the home was an especially important predictor of chronic posttraumatic stress symptoms, with and without symptoms of psychological distress. Those individuals with higher earnings and better social support reported better outcomes in the long run, but results indicate that mental health issues still remain a concern for hurricane survivors.

Even four years after the storm, researchers found that about a third of participants still reported high levels of posttraumatic stress and about 30 percent reported suffering from psychological distress.

According to Paxson, “I think the lesson for treatment of mental health conditions is don’t think it’s over after a year. It isn’t.”

To read more about the study, see January’s issue of Social Science & Medicine.

What do you find most beneficial in working with survivors of traumatic events?
Getting a good night’s sleep is a typical recommendation during times of stress, especially after a unsettling or traumatic experience. A new study, published in the Journal of Neuroscience, questions this standard thinking. Researchers at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst showed 106 participants unsettling images, then showed them again 12 hours later. Subjects who stayed awake during those 12 hours had less emotional reactivity to the same stimuli than did subjects who went to sleep—particularly those who had more time in REM sleep. The same pattern was noted for recognition accuracy 12 hours later—it was better in participants who slept than in those who didn’t.  The study concludes that “sleep enhances emotional memory while preserving emotional reactivity.”

“It is common to be sleep-deprived after witnessing a traumatic scene, almost as if your brain doesn't want to sleep on it," said Rebecca Spencer, one of the authors of the study. In fact, going to sleep may “lock in” the negative emotions associated with the traumatic event.

Have you found this to be true in your practice? Do patients who get more rest after a negative event have a harder time recovering than those who get little sleep? Could insomnia be considered as a recommended treatment for people with PTSD?