PTSD possible for kids who witnessed or were present for Gatineau daycare shooting

The 53 children attending the Gatineau daycares in which two men were killed Friday are at high risk of developing post-traumatic stress disorder, an expert warns.

Regardless of whether the shooting took place in front of them, “I think those kids will be traumatized,” said Toronto therapist and author Sara Dimerman.

According to research, said Dimerman, a child’s risk of developing PTSD is related to the seriousness of the trauma, the child’s proximity to the trauma, and the relationship with the victim.

With death, blood, and gunshots, “it’s every parent’s worst nightmare, because more parents are nervous-to-neurotic, you know, when it comes to the safety of their children, and this kind of thing can really put them over the edge,” she said.

Even if kids aren’t displaying severe signs of distress, they’d benefit from individual and group art or play therapy to help “re-enact what went on and to be able to work through their feelings, even if they can’t talk about it,” said Dimerman.

For parents whose children weren’t involved, the shooting is an opportunity to discuss gun violence.

And reassurance is crucial.

Kids living closer to the event will often be more traumatized by it, said Dimerman.

Parents can look for kids who are replaying memories of the event, waking up in the middle of the night, losing interest in activities, headaches and stomach aches, etc.

Symptoms can last several months to even years, said Dimerman.

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