Teri L. Elliott
Helping children and adolescents recover from the negative emotional consequences of a traumatic event is a critical role for parents, teachers, and trauma mental health specialists. Historically, children have been exposed to both natural disasters, such as floods and earthquakes, and those initiated by man. Examples of the latter include wars, terrorist attacks, and the recent spate of school-related incidents in the United States. While these events have captured national and international attention, they are but a small sample of traumatic events that children experience.
Each year children are subjected either directly or indirectly to a wide range of tragedies, such as auto accidents, interpersonal violence, and catastrophic events. For many children, witnessing the aforementioned acts is as painful as when an adult experiences them directly. In order to assist children who have experienced a traumatic event, this chapter will address reactions, mediating factors, and interventions to help in their recovery; it is intended for individuals, families, and professionals who support children in the healing process.
People commonly refer to events as traumatic when actually they may not reach that level of severity. Each year millions of children are exposed to critical events, such as natural disasters or the loss of a parent, but not all of these children will become traumatized. This chapter will provide a working definition of what consti-