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Sage’s Rage: How To Help Children Deal with Traumatic Events Like the Sandy Hook Tragedy

Posted on: December 19, 2012

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my blog is normally dedicated to issues for girls and young women.  but this week i want to use it in service to those who may need help in this time of crisis.  

child trauma 12-19-12today’s blog is focused on helping children deal with the trauma of witnessing violent events

i wish i didn’t have the experience to share about this particular topic. but unfortunately i do.  on a bright and beautiful september day in 2001 i was living in new york city and on my way to work. i was walking down 34th street by the empire state building when the twin towers were attacked.  i watched smoke envelop the sky and saw people running in panic.  i then put on the radio and heard the news. next i ran to work.  when i got there i saw the horror on tv.  we were all made to stay put until it was perceived safe enough for us to walk home.  the next few months were a blur.

you see i worked at the nyu child study center which is one of the leading medical facilities in the world focused on child development and child mental health.   we were getting hundreds of calls a day from schools and organizations who needed help working with children who had witnessed that unimaginable violent attack.  from that work, we developed a tool kit for parents, teachers and schools on how to help your child deal with traumatic violent attacks and crisis  http://www.aboutourkids.org/files/articles/crisis_guide02_w_spanish.pdf

most people don’t realize that being a victim of the a violent attack is not the only way to experience trauma.  one can also just witness the attack (even on tv) and be impacted.  this is especially true for children.   child trauma is something that many adults ignore. they figure the child is too young to realize what happened. but research shows that even infants are able to absorb the trauma but are unable to verbally express what they are feeling.   child traumatic stress is when a child’s reactions interfere with daily life.  so it’s important to pay attention to any changes in your child’s mood, behavior and physical symptoms. then get help from a trained professional (clergy, counselor, psychologist).

the following are resources to help your child deal with witnessing the sandy hook tragedy or other violent events:

National Child Traumatic Stress Network Resources related to the Sandy Hook Tragedy

http://www.nctsn.org/trauma-types/terrorism

Tips from the American Psychological Association on how to help your child deal with the Sandy Hook Tragedy

http://www.apa.org/school-shooting.aspx

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