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 Many children are exposed to potentially traumatic events, placing them at increased risk for a range of negative mental and physical health consequences. Racially and ethnically minoritized youth are more likely to experience trauma, and they often face compounding stressors related to systemic oppression and discrimination that may exacerbate mental health difficulties. To mitigate the potential consequences of childhood trauma exposure, there has been increasing emphasis on scalable interventions that can be integrated into existing systems and/or delivered by paraprofessionals. In parallel, the field has shifted away from purely focusing on symptom reduction, acknowledging the importance of both prevention-based programs and strength-based interventions that promote positive development. These programs hold promise for improving youth wellbeing in novel ways.  

Camp HOPE America and Fostering Healthy Futures for Preteens (FHF-P)

 Two programs that promote positive psychosocial functioning among school-aged youth affected by familial trauma exposure include Camp HOPE America and Fostering Healthy Futures for Preteens (FHF-P). Both programs are rooted in the positive youth development model, which suggests that one of the most effective ways to support young people is to create opportunities for them to learn and develop skills in a safe, supportive environment. 
Camp HOPE America is a strengths-based intervention for children exposed to family violence. The intervention is delivered in a weeklong overnight summer camp. A study evaluating the effectiveness of Camp HOPE Tennessee suggests that this program may improve youth wellbeing and school engagement. This study was conducted with youth aged 7-12 who were majority Black/African American. One month after camp, campers reported higher levels of psychological wellbeing and sense of autonomy and parent relations, compared to children who did not attend camp. Additionally, campers reported higher levels of school engagement four months after camp. 
FHF-P is a mentoring and skills training program for youth who have been involved with the child welfare system. In majority Latine/o/a/x or Black US-based youth ages 9-11, this program has been found to reduce trauma and other mental health symptoms, reduce placement changes and residential treatment, increase permanency, reduce delinquency, and improve children’s overall quality of life. Furthermore, FHF-P has been shown to reduce suicidality among youth involved in the program. 

The Child Sexual Abuse (CSA) Prevention Program and the Faculty Awareness and Cultural Engagement (FACE) Program

 The child sexual abuse (CSA) prevention program and the Faculty Awareness and Cultural Engagement (FACE) program are two programs that aim to indirectly promote youth wellbeing by increasing engagement, knowledge, and/or cultural humility among adults who interact with youth (e.g., educators, service providers) . 
The CSA prevention program aims to reduce CSA by educating adults who work with children and families about CSA and strategies for promoting respectful relationships between children. This program was implemented with service providers and project managers in two Indigenous Nations in Quebec. Findings suggested that CSA prevention programming can increase knowledge and positive attitudes regarding the prevention of CSA and promotion of respectful relationships. Furthermore, this program helped diffuse participants’ discomfort in talking about CSA and fostered trust between Indigenous and non-Indigenous participants using a cultural safety approach. 
The FACE program aims to promote positive communication between faculty members in higher education and students with marginalized identities. This program engages faculty members who struggle to support minoritized students been affected by trauma exposure. By facilitating cultural humility and multifaceted understanding of students’ intersectional identities, the goal of FACE is to improve cultural responsivity in faculty members, preparing them to more effectively support minoritized students affected by trauma. 


Together, these findings underscore the promise of preventive and strengths-based interventions for trauma-exposed youth.  While there are challenges in establishing and maintaining trusting and balanced relationships with community partners, particularly in the context of demanding academic environments and warranted mistrust of researchers among minoritized communities, incorporating cultural humility and facilitating meaningful engagement with community partners is essential throughout the research process. 

Discussion Questions

  1. What role do strengths-based interventions play in supporting youth who have experienced significant trauma? Why might they be more – or less – effective than traditional interventions that focus on symptom reduction? 
  2. If you could invest in training more therapists for young people OR training adults who interact with young people to be more sensitive, informed, and supportive – which option would you choose? Why? 
  3. How can researchers establish trusting, collaborative relationships with community stakeholders and providers? Why are these relationships important (or why are they not)? 

About the Authors

Amanda Hasselle, PhD, is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Psychology at Rhodes College. She received her doctoral degree from the University of Memphis Clinical Psychology program and completed her clinical internship at the University of New Mexico. Dr. Hasselle’s research examines factors across the social ecology that influence mental health functioning among youth and families affected by adversity, with an emphasis on resilience resources that promote adaptive functioning. She is particularly interested in disseminating and evaluating interventions designed to promote positive functioning among youth, with the ultimate goal of improving access to evidence-based interventions and reducing mental health disparities. Dr. Hasselle can be contacted at hassellea@rhodes.edu.
Heather Taussig, PhD, is a professor at the Graduate School of Social Work. She is also an adjunct professor at the Kempe Center for the Prevention and Treatment of Child Abuse and Neglect at the University of Colorado. Taussig's research focuses on developing and testing prevention programming for maltreated children with child welfare involvement. She developed and directs the Fostering Healthy Futures (FHF) program, an evidence-based mentoring program for children with child welfare involvement that was developed and tested with funding from the National Institutes for Health. FHF is being disseminated through community-based organizations and a teen adaptation is being tested in a randomized controlled trial funded by the Laura and John Arnold Foundation.
Jacinthe Dion, Ph.D., is a psychologist and professor at the Department of Psychology at the Université du Québec à Trois-Rivières (Quebec, Canada). She is co-holder of the VISAJ Research Chair on youth development and health. Her research program focuses on risk and protective factors of psychosocial adaptation and health among adolescents and emerging adults from the general population and Indigenous Peoples who have suffered child abuse.
Erica McIntosh, DSW, LCSW, is an Assistant Professor of Social Work at California Baptist University. Her research focuses on promoting mental health equity by addressing systemic oppression and racial trauma. She is an avid reader and enjoys traveling with her family. 


  1. Study on Camp HOPE:
    1. Hasselle, A.J., Howell, K.H., Garza, A., Thomsen, K.N., & Gilliam, H.C. (In Press). A randomized controlled trial examining the effect of Camp Hope on youth functioning: Results from a pilot study. Psychological Trauma: Theory, Research, Practice, & Policy
  2. Study on CSA Prevention Program:
    1. Dion, J., Attard, V., Guyon, R., De La Sablonnière-Griffin, M., Perreault, É., & Hébert, M. (2024). Implementing a sexual violence prevention program in two Canadian Indigenous communities: Challenges and lessons learned. Child abuse & neglect, 148, 106271.