USF St. Petersburg campus Honors Program Theses (Undergraduate)

First Advisor

Thesis Director: Dr. Wendy Rote, Ph.D. Assistant Professor, College of Arts and Sciences

Second Advisor

Thesis Committee Member: Dr. Joan Reid, Ph.D, LMHC Assistant Professor, College of Arts and Sciences

Third Advisor

Thesis Committee Member: Dr. Thomas Smith, PhD. Professor, College of Arts and Sciences

Document Type


Publication Date


Date Issued



Post-traumatic stress disorder in children under six years old has been formally recognized since 2013 (Veteran’s Affairs, 2019), yet the body of research is still lacking for this age group. An important step towards helping these youngest sufferers of post-traumatic stress disorder is to determine whether symptomology assessments, social supports, and treatments that exist for older children can apply to those who are younger than six suffering from the disorder. This comprehensive literature review compiles the research on post-traumatic stress disorders in children from six to seventeen years old in Western Educated Industrialized Rich Democratic (WEIRD) countries. Topics covered in this analysis include definitions and diagnostic criteria, the symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder, the causes of PTSD, risk factors of PTSD, the importance of social support and treatment practices. Common themes and gaps in the literature were identified, including a disproportionate focus on sexual abuse as the cause of PTSD in children (overlooking areas such as physical abuse and maltreatment), that females are more often reported and diagnosed, and that little research exists directly comparing PTSD sources, symptoms, or treatment for children younger and older than age six. The findings of this analysis suggest that more research needs to be done on the sources of PTSD, preventative measures, assessing symptomology, and effective treatments for children under six years old.


A thesis submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements of the University Honors Program University of South Florida, St. Petersburg May 1, 2020.