Parental Emotional Response to Children’s Traumas

Holt, T., Cohen, J., Mannarino, A., & Jensen, T. K. (2014). Parental Emotional Response to Children’s Traumas. Journal of Aggression, Maltreatment & Trauma, 1057-1071. doi:10.1080/10926771.2014.953717

To better understand how parents react to their child’s trauma exposure and evaluate whether different reactions are related to different types of traumas, 120 parents (79.2% mothers, 18.3% fathers, 2.5% other caregivers) were asked about their emotional reactions related to their child’s self-reported worst trauma. Emotional reactions were assessed with the Parental Emotional Reactions Questionnaire (PERQ).

Parents reported high levels of distress and guilt. Furthermore, there was a significant relationship between type of trauma and parents’ overall emotional reactions. Parental distress was equally endorsed among the different trauma groups. Parents of children who experienced intrafamilial violence and extrafamilial sexual abuse reported the highest levels of guilt, and child exposure to intrafamilial violence was associated with higher levels of parental shame.


KEYWORDS caregivers, correlations, distress, emotional reactions,

guilt, shame, trauma, youth

The Researchers