With most US media outlets discussing the details and long-term effects on the surviving children and families of the mass shooting in Newtown, Connecticut, there is no shortage of experts giving opinions and probable forecasts on what this means for the survivors. But most are missing the larger picture, or at least leaving out the larger effects.
Surely the children who survived will be left with long-standing stress disorders, acute stress disorders, and post-traumatic stress disorders as time goes on. This is certain. The sad reality is that all of our nation’s children who know of this massacre have been effected and will be different as a result. Our world will not look the same to them. They have found out “there is no Santa” in a tragic manner. Their learning will be less focused as they fear for their own safety.
Whether considering the children immediately involved or all of our nation’s children, there exists firm data on how such matters will effect them and what we can expect. The best place to look regarding the long-term psychological effects both on children who survive being intentionally targeted for murder and on society-at-large when such practices become commonplace is Israel.
For decades, Israeli children have been intentionally targeted for murder by Palestinian terrorism. The surviving children there have endured being targeted, known other children who have been murdered, or at least endured living in a place where they realized from an early age that there might always be someone nearby who wants to kill them.
In a recent piece titled “Israeli Children and PTSD, Long-Term Effects of Palestinian Terror,” I referenced several studies which various NGO’s, universities, and other experts performed. Though clearly differences exist between long-standing war and instances of madmen shooting children in American schools, I would argue that the emotional effects upon children are similar and comparable.
Readers and other writers are encouraged to start here and read the various studies for themselves.