Special to theGrio: The killing of 26 people, including 20 children, at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut this week has left the nation — and people across the globe — shaken. On “Melissa Harris Perry” on Saturday, Dr. Jeffrey Gardere talked about how the tragedy will impact those who experienced itSan.
What the children/survivors of the Connecticut shooting will experience:
The children at the school will be experiencing symptoms of Acute Stress Disorder and later Post Traumatic Stress Disorder within a month of this tragedy, if not right away.
Consequently, these children may not be as verbal in relating their emotional pain because of their young age and therefore may suffer silently, all the while insisting they are okay; but they are not. Because they may want to avoid any situation that reminds them of the traumatic situation, they may not want to return to school or even be afraid to step on the grounds of the school, or perhaps any school. They may have general anxiety and as well a startle response to any sudden noises or actions. Flashbacks and recurrent nightmares will be numerous where they will wake up crying and have an inability to get a good night’s sleep. Parents should expect them to be very clingy and crying, often at any little situation or provocation. In addition, they will have appetite problems, eating too much or too little. In the future, they may have problems with trusting others.
These children and their parents will be getting psychological care for the next few years. Regardless, the innocence of these children has been severely compromised. Even with psychological treatment they will be forever changed. It is our duty as adults and treating personnel that we not only help them grieve and cope, but also come out of this experience as much as possible as stronger and loving individuals, even though they have been visited by hate and evil.
Dr. Jeff Gardere is a psychologist and author. Follow him on Twitter at @DrJeffGardere
Tomorrow on theGrio: talking to your kids about the tragedy