Kroc Center Greenville Women Giving
Photo by Will Crooks

To instill children with a sense of security, caregivers need to provide equal shares of love and support, according to Lauren Stephens, social ministries director at Salvation Army of Greenville County.

Stephens remarks came during a panel presentation Oct. 15 at the Kroc Center that was hosted by Greenville Women Giving. The presentation was part of the Building Resilience from Adversity event, which featured speakers from two local child-advocacy groups, A Child’s Haven and the pediatrics division of Prisma Health System.

Adverse Childhood Experiences

However, Stephens said, not all caregivers always establish a safe environment or extend kindness and care to children.

Greenville Women Giving hosted the event to help raise public awareness of child abuse, neglect and adversity in Greenville County, and to communicate available resources for children.

Adverse Childhood Experiences

Tanya Camunas, senior director of program and strategy at A Child’s Haven, spoke about adverse childhood experiences. She explained that these issues are a public-health problem and should not be taken lightly or put off because of the child’s age.

Camunas asked attendees to imagine being a child, coming home every night and being afraid for his or her or another family member’s life. This is what she calls toxic stress.

Camunas said other sources of toxic stress could include a parent’s substance abuse, or sexual, physical or psychological abuse. It could come from domestic violence or emotional or physical neglect.

According to Camunas, children are especially sensitive to these traumas and could suffer long-term psychological and emotional effects if they have no way to cope.


Dr. Mary-Fran Crosswell, a child abuse pediatrician with Prisma Health, talked about how children and adults can respond to past or current traumas. She said that for years she wondered how some children were able to overcome adverse experiences while others could not.

According to Crosswell, children are more resilient to adverse experiences depending on their ability to form relationships, especially a healthy relationship with an adult.

Mary-Fran Crosswell, MD is a child abuse pediatrician with Prisma Health.

Crosswell explained that adults can act as a buffer to toxic stress since children are extremely perceptive to grown-ups.

These positive, protective relationships do not have to include a parent or caregiver, according to the panel. They could also be between a child and a teacher, coach or family friend. Crosswell said that resilience requires relationships, not rugged individualism.

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