UTEP Counseling Psychologist: Children Involved in School Shooting Will Experience Trauma Differently


POSTED: Friday, December 14, 2012 - 6:17pm

UPDATED: Friday, December 14, 2012 - 6:23pm

Although school shootings have been in the news before, Friday's shooting in Connecticut may have involved the youngest victims.

The very young children who witnessed the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, CT will have to deal with the trauma of losing their classmates and friends.

Doctor Rick Myer with the Department of Educational Psychology at UTEP has responded several times before to provide support after school shootings, and also helped New York City residents cope with the trauma after the September 11th attacks.

He said children deal with trauma differently, but the kids will likely experience feelings of guilt, anger and sadness. He said they are most likely to turn to the people they know best. 

"For kids, probably they're going to have difficulty understanding what happened, they'll be feeling guilty, they also may regress a little bit developmentally. What's going to be most helpful for them is for the parents to provide support," said Myer.

Myer said adults will also deal with the trauma of the shooting in many different ways.

For now, he believes everyone is involved in what he calls the, "emergency phase," in which they all those impacted come together to provide support.

Myer also predicts a delayed response the next 48 hours, in which the people involved will begin to feel anger towards the preparation and response.

He said it is common for people to question if there was a crisis management plan in place.

Even so, Myer said he believes there is no way to ever really prepare for this type of incident.

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