The Prevalence of Potentially Traumatic Events in Childhood and Adolescence

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This paper examines exposure to potentially traumatic events from middle childhood through adolescence, and vulnerability to such exposure. Analyses are based on the first 4 annual waves of data from a longitudinal general population study of youth in western North Carolina, involving 4,965 interviews with 1,420 children and adolescents and their parents or guardians. Participants reported on DSM extreme stressors (“high magnitude events”), other potentially traumatic events (“low magnitude events”), and background vulnerability factors. In this general population sample, one-quarter experienced at least one high magnitude event by age 16, 6% within the past 3 months. One third experienced a low magnitude event in the past 3 months. The likelihood of such exposure increased with the number of vulnerability factors.

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