The Process of Healing

Posted on December 16, 2012

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The entire nation has been grieving the loss of innocent, young lives for the past day and a half. The victims of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting were mostly children who had their entire lives ahead of them. Watching the news, I noticed that there were a lot of questions, such as why it happened, what triggered the gunman, and if gun control could’ve prevented this tragedy. I think that most of these questions will remain unanswered, and it is important to focus on the victims and not the shooter or the politics.

Those who were killed were robbed of their chances to live out their dreams. Then there are also those who survived this tragedy.

According to the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry (AACAP), children who experience Type I Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (also known as one-episode trauma, or single-blow trauma) usually (not always) retain memories of the traumatic event in detail, despite efforts to try and forget it. Nightmares may become more common, and even daytime sudden recollection of the event can occur (AACAP). Some children may also have hallucinations (AACAP). These may interfere in the children’s day-to-day activities, such as school and play (AACAP).

Childhood trauma, whether occurring once or repeatedly, can be associated with serious emotional disorders, such as, but not limited to, major depression, conduct disorder, and antisocial behavior, which may present themselves in childhood or later in life (AACAP). This may be because childhood trauma may make the affected children pessimistic of the future and may make them feel vulnerable (AACAP).

It is important for families and communities to provide these children support, understanding, and a sense of safety again as soon as possible to limit the effects of the traumatic event (AACAP). The National Child Traumatic Stress Network (NCTSN) offers parents, guardians, and school personnel information regarding childhood trauma and tools to help them provide whatever the children need to heal.

According to the American Psychological Association (APA), we still have a lot to learn about childhood post-traumatic stress disorder since most of what we know about post-traumatic stress disorder are based on studies involving adults. There are also many variables that can make each child’s response to trauma different, such as cultural context and background (APA). These variables should also be considered by the people around these children when providing recovery assistance (APA).

What happened at Sandy Hook Elementary School will be one of the tragedies that the United States, the rest of the world, and especially the children, families, and the community directly affected by this tragedy will always remember. Many children around the world have experienced and continue to experience trauma, such as sexual abuse, war, domestic violence, and natural disasters. We must all do what we can to understand childhood trauma, find ways to limit its effects, and eliminate its preventable causes.

Posted in: Children, Conflict