A Conversation on Mental Health Part 1: How Tragedies Affect Kids

Updated: May 16, 2018 09:09 AM

When school shootings happen, students throughout the country see them unfold on TV and through social media. Whether they are coping with their own issues, or reacting to what's happened, it can affect them.

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"Really what the literature shows is that Doctor of anyone under the age of 12, which is the majority of our elementary school age children shouldn't be exposed to too much of what's going on, but of course they're going to be with the drills," Psychology Nicole Fleming says.

Fleming explains that there can be many impacts on youth.

"Aside from what we generally think of children being more anxious and having fear, it can also impact their general feelings of safety and their world view," she says.

By having exposure to video and images of these horrific events can lead to traumatic responses, even if that student is not directly involved. This can impact a developing brain.

Now, students in elementary school are impacted differently than middle/high school students in that it's harder for younger children to process what's happening.

"Cognitively and developmentally, children under the age of eight... they're going to struggle to process what the meaning of these events really are about," Fleming says. "Whereas, older kids are going to have more of a need for people to listen and validate what's happening and talk about the moral issues at hand."

She adds that, as adults are exposed to violent events, they become more "numb." Older folks begin to ignore the issues surrounding it, and go about their lives.

"We watch it on TV and then just go about our day and expect our children also to compartmentalize the issues and be able to go about their day... even though these events are impacting them psychologically " Fleming says.

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