(NY Times) Children Can Usually Recover From Emotional Trauma

Posted by Kendall Harmon

For young people exposed to gun trauma — like the students of Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn. — the road to recovery can be long and torturous, marked by anxiety, nightmares, school trouble and even substance abuse. Witnessing lethal violence ruptures a child’s sense of security, psychiatrists say, leaving behind an array of emotional and social challenges that are not easily resolved.

But the good news is that most of these children will probably heal.

“Most kids, even of this age, are resilient,” said Dr. Glenn Saxe, chairman of child and adolescent psychiatry at NYU Langone Medical Center. “The data shows that the majority of people after a trauma, including a school assault, will end up doing O.K.”

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchChildrenHealth & MedicineHistoryMarriage & FamilyPsychologyStressViolenceYoung Adults* TheologyAnthropologyPastoral Theology

1 Comments
Posted December 20, 2012 at 5:15 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]



1. Teatime2 wrote:

My goodness, this is an alarming set of figures and the nonchalance with which it’s cited is equally disturbing:

One reason people tend to overestimate the psychological damage a child may sustain after a school shooting is that they underestimate the prevalence of childhood trauma. In a 1997 study of 12-to-17-year-olds conducted by the Medical University of South Carolina, 8 percent reported experiencing a sexual assault, 17 percent reported physical assault and 39 percent said they had been witness to violence.

“In a way, trauma is part of the ticket of being human,” Dr. Saxe said. “Most of us can look back and note at least one experience where there was a pretty big threat” to our safety. “Most people use that, manage and cope and go on.”

That trauma is part of the American experience (I would challenge his sweeping assertion that these sorts of events are part of the overall human experience) is so very sad. And defeatist, in a way.

And I think that in light of how “common” this expert says such trauma is, they’re probably falsely diminishing the effects. My cousin was gunned down by her ex-husband, who had a long history of and jail time for assaulting her repeatedly. He shouldn’t have been able to buy the gun he purchased to kill her but he did, legally, and the rest is history. Is it any wonder, then, that my family is vehemently opposed to lax gun laws and the ability of every Tom, Dick, Harry, and Mary to pack a pistol? And is it any wonder that my cousins and I are wary of marriage and have trust issues?

I think it’s a bit odd that the same psychologist, sociologists, theologians, etc. who are alarmed by the breakdown and decrease in the popularity of marriage haven’t considered that trauma plays a part. There are a lot of damaged, traumatized folks among us.

December 20, 4:47 pm | [comment link]
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