The aftermath of violence: children, disaster, and posttraumatic stress disorder

J Pediatr Health Care. Sep-Oct 2002;16(5):235-44. doi: 10.1067/mph.2002.126869.


Terrorist attacks, situations of armed conflict, and all forms of catastrophe tax our abilities to cope, understand, and respond. Because of their developmental status, children are even more emotionally vulnerable to the devastating effects of a disaster. When tragedy strikes a family, community, or the nation, helping children cope and regain a sense of safety is critical. A child with posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) develops symptoms such as intense fear, disorganized and agitated behavior, emotional numbness, anxiety, or depression after being directly exposed to or witnessing an extreme traumatic situation involving threatened death or serious injury. Victims of repeated abuse or children who live in violent neighborhoods or war zones, or who have witnessed extensive media coverage of violent events, may experience PTSD.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Disasters*
  • Human Development
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Nurse Practitioners
  • Psychology, Child
  • Psychotherapy / methods
  • Stress Disorders, Post-Traumatic* / diagnosis
  • Stress Disorders, Post-Traumatic* / etiology
  • Stress Disorders, Post-Traumatic* / nursing
  • Stress Disorders, Post-Traumatic* / psychology
  • Stress Disorders, Post-Traumatic* / therapy
  • Terrorism / psychology*
  • United States