How do you go back to school in a place of bloodshed?
“He’s never going to graduate high school like I get to graduate,” Tyra Hemats said of her friend Joaquin Oliver, 17, killed Wednesday in the Parkland, Florida, shooting.
“I was too scared to go to sleep without [YouTube]. I don’t know how I’ll ever go back inside my school again,” Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School student Jordan Campbell told the New Yorker.
Nightmares, intrusive thoughts, avoidance.
“On days like these I am not OK. I am far from it,” wrote Hollan T. Holm, a survivor of a 1997 school shooting.
These are just some of the effects of trauma.
Students who survive a mass shooting are considered the lucky ones and yet “they have a long recovery ahead of them,” said psychologist Romeo Vitelli, author of the Everything Guide to Overcoming PTSD.
Seventeen people were murdered at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School on Wednesday. When it reopens, it will be unsurprising if students wish to avoid the scene of the tragedy.
“They expect that school is a safe place and that safety is violated,” Vitelli said.
The shooting activated students’ “fight, flight, freeze” response, said trauma therapist Susanne Babbel, PhD.
“Those children are traumatized … Returning to school might trigger their trauma in various ways,” Babbel said. “The child might feel from now on that school is unsafe, being in crowds is dangerous, sounds of people are a sign of something awful will happen. … For some going back to school might be healing, for others they might have to go back one hour at a time, and unfortunately finding an alternative facility might be needed for some as well.”
It is too soon to make a PTSD diagnosis, but minors who develop PTSD display many of the same symptoms as adults, such as:
- Difficulty sleeping
- Difficulty concentrating
- Being easily startled
- Flashbacks or replaying the memory on a loop
- Strong emotions: Fear, anxiety, anger, sadness
- Hyperarousal: “Feeling as though nothing is safe afterwards,” said Alissa Jerud, PhD, a clinical psychologist at the University of Pennsylvania who has treated adolescents and children with PTSD.
Some reactions can be more pronounced in teens, according to behavioral experts:
- Risk-taking behavior
- Suicidal ideation
- Substance abuse
Source by usatoday..