It is not the single traumatic event found in the Sandy Hook Elementary School mass murder. The world seems berieved in the aftermath of this horror, and all of us mothers mourn for the mothers of the children tragically lost. At University Behavioral HealthCare, "UBHC" we have experts in childhood trauma and grief in a program entitled the "Traumatic Loss Coalition for Youth (TLC)". This team of experts share tips on their website and respond in our communities on a daily basis offering support in response to traumatic loss that affects youth in New Jersey. Their material can be found at http://ubhc.umdnj.edu/brti/tlc/. Highlighted are some key talking points for parents speaking to youth following mass violence from their material and expertise at TLC.
Mass violence is shocking and disturbing to youth on so many levels. One is that it disrupts the way that they see the world. When threat is minimal, youth see the world as a safe and meaningful place and they feel a sense of control over their environment. When threat is high, youth can feel out of control, unsafe and that the world has lost its meaning. They can begin to worry that dangerous things can befall them or those they love. When violence is perpetrated by adults, the very people youth look to for protection, the impact is powerful. Additionally, venues such as movie theatres and other public places of entertainment are where youths and their families go for fun and relaxation and where they feel safe and free from harm.
Parents and school personnel can be helpful in mitigating the emotional effects of community violence on youths. Below are some strategies for dealing with these tragedies and assisting youth in regaining their sense of safety and security.
As always, if any of your concern about your child’s behavior is an issue consult your pediatrician and a licensed child behavioral healthcare professional to ensure your child gets the care that he or she needs. Cherish the moments with your children, slow down, offer extra hugs and love while quietly offering prayer and healing to the mothers who can only hold onto their memories this holiday season.
The Mom 2 Mom peer helpline program at University Behavioral HealthCare (UBHC) – UMDNJ is staffed by “Mom Peers” who have special needs children partnered with mental health professionals to offer peer support. Our children’s challenges range from mild developmental disabilities, epilepsy, autism, and even cancer however our trauma is found in everyday moments and our stress is cumulative as caregivers.