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Child traumatic stress occurs when children and adolescents are exposed to traumatic events or traumatic situations that overwhelm their ability to cope. Early childhood trauma is defined as traumatic experiences that occur in children aged 0 to 6.
Because infants' and young children's reactions may be different from older children's and because they may not be able to verbalise their reactions to threatening or dangerous events, many people assume that children's young age protects them from the impact of traumatic experiences.
These traumas can be the result of intentional violence such as child physical or sexual abuse or domestic violence or the result of natural disasters, accidents, or war. Young children also may experience traumatic stress in response to painful medical procedures or the sudden loss of a parent or caregiver.