Monday, August 29, 2016

Helping Youth Deal With Post Traumatic Stress - A Few Tips

In recent months the Baton Rouge community has faced several major challenges.  Public violent incidences and the recent historic floods have disrupted daily routines and placed unprecedented stress on every aspect of our society including religious institutions, education, governmental and law enforcement agencies.

In dealing with the long and intensive process of recovery, we sometimes forget the silent faction impacted the most......our children.  Youth are exposed to media more than ever.  Daily exposure to violent incidences, damage to homes and public institutions, and lack of resources can be devastating to a child's emotional and mental health.  Post traumatic stress can disrupt healthy family and community relationships and it can interfere with learning and emotional growth.  Ignoring stress can have devastating long term effects.

To prevent long term effects, adults can assist children by being aware of the signs of exposure to trauma and violence.

Young children struggling with post traumatic stress may be irritable, fussy and have difficulty calming down.  Adults may notice that children become easily startled and resort to behaviors common to being younger (for example, thumb sucking, bed wetting, or fear of the dark.)  Affected children may have frequent tantrums, cling to caregivers, experience changes in level of activity, or repeat events over and over in play or conversation.

Older children may exhibit the most behavioral changes as a result of exposure to violence.  Teens may talk about the event all the time or deny that it happened, refuse to follow rules or talk back with greater frequency  They may complain of being tired all the time, engage in risky behaviors, and sleep more or less than usual.  Adults may notice an increase in teens' aggressive behaviors and a desire to be alone and isolated from friends.  Additionally, teens may use drugs or alcohol, run away from home, or get into trouble with the law as unhealthy responses to post traumatic stress.

Adults can also help young people deal with post traumatic stress by creating a predictable environment, and by listening to and assuring children and adolescents that whatever happened was not their fault.  In working to support children and adolescents, remember that exposure to violence may require specialized assessment and interventions that many adults are unable to provide. Refer children and adolescents to professionals both within and outside the school system.  Other professionals may include family doctors, psychologists, social workers, school counselors or I CARE specialists.

The I CARE Program of East Baton Rouge Parish Schools has compiled a list of local and national resources necessary in addressing trauma and post traumatic stress.

Dealing With Trauma

Other I CARE Resources

Please note that the information in this post was taken from the Safe Start Center, a National Resource Center for Children’s Exposure to Violence.