Diagnosing and treating Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder in children
When we think of Post-Traumatic Stress Syndrome (PTSD), we think of adults. But not everyone who develops the syndrome is an adult. Many are children, school children. Many of those children have already developed PTSD because of life experiences in the home or in their neighborhoods. Dwivedi (2000) asserts that every child and adolescent encounters stressful events at some point in their life which can have a negative impact on them both physically and emotionally. Children who witness, or are the victims of family violence, gang violence, violence in schools and neighborhoods are at risk of developing PTSD. Many are living in the urban equivalent of a war zone and are paying a terrible price.
The recent spate of gang related shootings on the Cape Flats is the typical event that could trigger PTSD in adults and children. Newspaper reports indicate that most of the victims over the past few months have been children caught in the crossfire of gang warfare. For most children schools was considered a safe haven from the danger in their surroundings and teachers a safety bulwark against the danger posed by gangsters.
In light of the case study it would be extremely traumatic when the safe haven (school) is invaded by gun violence and the primary protector, educators gunned down. It would not be unreasonable for children to argue that nowhere is safe anymore. This could lead to severe anxiety about their own safety and the safety of others. When teachers acting “in loco parentis " for school children die in a shooting incident at school it would not be farfetched that the child or witness experience similar symptoms to a child losing her own biological mother in a violent act.
Damian et al. posits that the formal scientific recognition of the occurring of PTSD in children was only recently gained. Up to the 1980’s it was widely believed to be an...