The American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry (AACAP) extends its deepest sympathies to the families of the victims of the school shooting tragedy on Virginia Tech's campus on Monday, April 16.
For Immediate Release
Contact: Denise Espie, MBA, Communications Director
202.966.7300, Ext. 120
Erin Baker, Communications Manager
202.966.7300, Ext. 119
Experts Offer Resources on Grieving, Trauma for Families
Washington, D.C., April 17, 2007 - The American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry (AACAP) extends its deepest sympathies to the families of the victims of the school shooting tragedy on Virginia Tech's campus on Monday, April 16.
"The loss of life is overwhelming. Our thoughts and prayers are with the families and the Virginia Tech community," said AACAP President, Thomas F. Anders, M.D.
In response to the shooting, AACAP offers disaster resources for families coping with loss and grief and for those looking to foster a dialogue with their families on violence in the news.
- Understanding Violent Behavior in Children and Adolescents
- Children and the News
- Children and Grief
- Posttraumatic Stress Disorder
In addition, David Fassler, M.D., a child and adolescent psychiatrist offers these tips for parents on Talking About Community Violence:
- Create an open and supportive environment where children know they can ask questions. At the same time, it's best not to force children to talk about things unless and until they're ready.
- Give children honest answers and information. Children will usually know, or eventually find out, if you're "making things up." It may affect their ability to trust you or your reassurances in the future.
- Use words and concepts children can understand. Gear your explanations to the child's age, language, and developmental level.
- Be prepared to repeat information and explanations several times. Some information may be hard for them to accept or understand. Asking the same question over and over may also be a way for a child to ask for reassurance.
- Acknowledge and validate the child's thoughts, feelings, and reactions. Let them know that you think their questions and concerns are important and appropriate.
- Remember that children tend to personalize situations. For example, they may worry about their own safety or the safety of friends and relatives, especially those who are away at college.
- Let children know that lots of people are helping the students, teachers, and families affected by the recent shootings
- Children learn from watching their parents and teachers. They are very interested in how you respond to local and national events. They also learn from listening to your conversations with other adults.
- Don't let children watch too much television with frightening images. The repetition of such scenes can be disturbing and confusing.
- Children who have experienced trauma or losses in the past are particularly vulnerable to prolonged or intense reactions to news or images of violent incidents. These children may need extra support and attention.
- Children who are preoccupied with questions or concerns about safety should be evaluated by a trained and qualified mental health professional. Other signs that a child may need additional help include: ongoing sleep disturbances, intrusive thoughts or worries, recurring fears about death, leaving parents or going to school. If these behaviors persist, ask your child's pediatrician, family physician, or school counselor to help arrange an appropriate referral.
Incidents of community violence are not easy for anyone to comprehend or accept. Understandably, some young children may feel frightened or confused. As parents, teachers, and caring adults, we can best help by listening and responding in an honest, consistent, and supportive manner. Fortunately, most children -- even those exposed to trauma -- are quite resilient.
By creating an open environment where they feel free to ask questions, we can help them cope with stressful events and experiences, and reduce the risk of lasting emotional difficulties.
Click here for more information on this subject and to view the entire AACAP Facts for Families series. More information about helping children cope with violence and trauma is available at: www.NCTSN.org and www.mentalhealth.samhsa.gov.
To interview a child and adolescent psychiatrist about the effects of a school shooting, please contact Erin Baker, Communications Manager, at 202.966.7300, ext. 119 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Representing over 7,500 child and adolescent psychiatrists nationwide, the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry (AACAP) is the leading authority on children’s mental health. AACAP members actively research, diagnose, and treat psychiatric disorders affecting children, adolescents, and their families.
The American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry (AACAP) is the leading authority on children’s mental health. AACAP members actively research, diagnose, and treat psychiatric disorders affecting children, adolescents, and their families.
Our Facts for Families, available free of charge on the AACAP website, provide concise and up-to-date information on a wide array of issues relating to children’s mental health. Written in a simple, straightforward manner, these 88 one-page fact sheets are valuable to anyone raising or working with children. In addition, the AACAP routinely refers the media to expert spokespeople on child and adolescent issues, and sponsors The Campaign for America’s Kids – an initiative designed to fund an Advocacy Institute for Child and Adolescent Mental Health, with the goal of mental health for all children.
AACAP Mission: The Mission of the AACAP is the promotion of mentally healthy children, adolescents and families through research, training, advocacy, prevention, comprehensive diagnosis and treatment, peer support and collaboration.