When Trauma Happens, Children Draw, Part II

Children's art and the visual vocabulary of war tell the truth.

Posted May 15, 2008

In 2005, peace campaigners from Human Rights Watch provided crayons and paper to children in Darfur while on a humanitarian trip to the region. What happened next was not expected: the children communicated what they had seen with their own eyes through their drawings. They drew, often with frightening accuracy, pictures of murder, torture, and destruction, images few photojournalists had ever been able to capture on film. The images were so precise that

While many famous artists have painted the horrors of war, the art expressions of these children are some of the most compelling, raw, and honest images about the terror inherent to human conflict. The drawings demonstrate our innate creative drive to communicate the experience of trauma and to restore homeostasis in the face of intolerable and unconscionable situations. But most of all, these children’s drawings convey what is nearly impossible to say with words and underscore our responsibility to bear witness to human suffering, honoring those voices that might otherwise have been silenced.

Click here for Part III, "When Trauma Happens, Children Draw"

Cathy Malchiodi, PhD, LPCC, LPAT, ATR-BC, REAT

© 2008 Cathy Malchiodi

Visit my website for more art therapy information at

For information on the Trauma-Informed Practices and Expressive Arts Therapy Institute, go to