The National Survey of Child and Adolescent Well-Being (NASCAW) study showed that behavioral problems warranting mental health or behavioral services are common in children who have been maltreated or traumatized. Many of these children lack sufficient ability to regulate their emotions or impulsivity and may also have difficulty describing their feelings. They may be unable to articulate their wishes and desires in a socially acceptable way, and may manifest behavioral problems externally through bullying, fighting, or opposition; or internally through withdrawal, anxiety, or fear in the face of non-threatening events, or crying easily.
Caregivers of traumatized children with behavioral issues in the child welfare system frequently have difficulty coping with these children in the home. They do not understand why a child fails to respond to their affection, support, and structure with improved behaviors. The caregiver may eventually ask for the removal of a child with behavioral problems, particularly if the child is defiant and aggressive. This may further compound the child’s social and emotional difficulties, and make permanency even more elusive.