"Research on the impact of the World Trade Center attack indicates that children who viewed more television news of the attack were two times as likely to develop symptoms of PTSD than children with lower TV exposure," said Harold S. Koplewicz, M.D., Director of the NYU Child Study Center. "Our job as parents is to protect our kids from unnecessary media coverage of this event. Good parents will stop the television."
The NYU Child Study Center recommends that parents limit television viewing of the disaster for children under 12 years of age, and eliminate all viewing when possible. For teenagers ages 12-17 it can be harder to completely eliminate television. Parents should take this opportunity to start a dialogue about the events, making sure kids understand what has occurred and know that they can continue the conversation if future questions or concerns arise.
Kids' questions and concerns are likely to be tough to answer, but as with all important discussions, keeping communication lines open is critical and honesty is essential. Some concerns don't get settled quickly, and more than one conversation may be necessary as events unfold.
"The effects of witnessing or being a victim of Katrina will vary for children depending on their age, how they experienced the event and their ability to understand what has happened," said Marylene Cloitre, Ph.D., Director of the NYU Child Study Center Institute for Trauma and Stress. "Parents should allow children to express themselves,
Contact: Danielle Grillo
New York University Child Study Center