In recent news, the world was rocked by the distressing shootings that happened in a US primary school. This kind of traumatic event is sadly all-too common these days, and can have a devastating impact on families whose lives are ripped apart by the loss of a family member. Those who get caught up in this type of ordeal but survive, are often somewhat dismissed as ‘lucky’ but it is important to recognise how deeply traumatic these experiences are for young children, and how the repercussions can be lifelong.
Sadly, there is a real lack of information or evidence about methods to protect family wellness by helping the victims of childhood trauma. A study funded by the US government has shown a huge gap in knowledge and nobody is really clear on the best way to help these young people.
Counselling that is offered in school seems to have some positive effects on the child’s wellbeing, but much more research is needed to explore this and find out how it can be built upon to provide a solid support network for a young person who is recovering from being involved in or witness to a traumatic incident. The role of medications such as anti-anxiety drugs also needs to be explored in more detail to find out what – if anything – they add to the treatment of traumatised youths.
The research stated that as much as two-thirds of the US child and teen population will experience a traumatic event such as a shooting, violent incident, car crash or weather disaster during their young years. Some of these will escape without any long-term psychological damage, but around 13 percent will develop symptoms related to post-traumatic stress, such as behaviour problems or an anxiety disorder.
In conclusion, the report does not appear to state that treatment of traumatised children does not work, but that a lot more research is required into what works, and why.