Help at hand for children dealing with trauma

17 January, 2013

In the wake of the mass shootings in Newtown, Connecticut, the Australian Child and Adolescent Trauma, Loss and Grief Network (ACATLGN) based at ANU, has cautioned parents, carers and healthcare professionals to be mindful of the impacts this tragedy could have on Australian children.

ACATLGN Chairperson and Professor of Psychological Medicine at the ANU Medical School, Beverley Raphael AM, expressed the network’s sadness over the shootings and reminded people of the support resources available.

"We all extend our wishes and condolences during this tragic time. We also recognise the great courage of both those who have died and those who have survived. Parents, families and communities will be experiencing grief, sadness, anger and helplessness," Raphael said.

"Tragic incidents often lead us to be touched once more by our own traumas, our own losses, our own grief and these are often brought to the surface again by such experiences. So it is an important time to recognise this grief and to comfort one another or even to seek help if the distress is very great.

"It is also a time to think about what impact this tragic news may have on children here in Australia. In this era of almost unfettered access to the internet, news, media and social media, children and young people are often repeatedly exposed to tragedies, disasters and the horrors that they bring.

"Young children can be especially affected by media coverage and school age children may feel frightened or concerned for their own safety.

"Limiting children’s exposure to media can help, as can making sure that parents, carers and families spend time talking to their children, answering questions and providing information that is age appropriate."