Communicating With Children About Disasters

The events of September 11th affected everyone personally in some way. Children were also affected, and probably more than we think. Just from watching news broadcasts children have been impacted in ways we are only beginning to notice. Teachers are even reporting that in art classes, small children are drawing chilling pictures of the Twin Towers with planes crashing into them.

The American Academy of Pediatrics has released some points of advice to assist in helping children's emotional health. These points were published on September 12, 2001 on the Intelihealth web site. The points they advise are:

  • It's important to communicate to children that they're safe. Given what they may have seen on television, they need to know that the violence is isolated to certain areas and they will not be harmed. Parents should try to assure children that they've done everything they can to keep their children safe.
  • Adolescents in particular can be hard hit by these kinds of events and parents might want to watch for signs such as: sleep disturbances, fatigue, lack of pleasure in activities enjoyed previously, and initiation of illicit substance abuse.
  • Overexposure to the media can be traumatizing. It's unwise to let children or adolescents view footage of traumatic events over and over. Children and adolescents should not watch these events alone.
  • Adults need to help children understand the significance of these events. Discussion is critical. It should be stressed that the terrorist acts are ones of desperation and horror - and that they're not about politics or religion. Children should know that lashing out at members of a particular religious or ethnic group will only cause more harm.
  • Chiropractors also recognize that this time of stress effects, and is affected by nervous interference from subluxations. It is therefore very important that children be chiropractically checked for subluxations and adjusted as needed.