Helping Our Children Cope with TerrorismJohn Campbell, Deputy Assistant Secretary, Bureau of Human Resources
Harlan D. Wadley, Director of Mental Health Services; Mary Livingston Azoy, Director of Training at Community Crisis Response Crisis Link; Pamela McCoy Ota, M.A., C.A.S, M.Ed., Certified School Psychologist, Benjamin Tasker Middle School; Alan Lang, Chairman, Open Forum
Remarks to the Open Forum
November 13, 2002
Opening Remarks by Alan Lang:
Opening Remarks by Alan Lang:Mr. Campbell, Dr. Wadley, Ms. Azoy, Ms. Ota, distinguished visitors, and members of the State Department family. Good afternoon, my name is Alan Lang, Iím the Chairman of the Secretaryís Open Forum. On behalf of all my colleagues Iím delighted to welcome you to the State Department for this discussion on Helping our Children Cope with Terrorism.
For nearly 14 months, children and youth have heard stories about terrorism, collapsing buildings, war, and reports about how the world is changing.
More recently we have been deeply affected by sniper attacks in neighborhoods throughout the Washington metro area and elsewhere.
As we think about past and current threats to our national and personal security, I think itís fitting that we have this conversation about terrorism, about psychological trauma, about creative ways in which to deal with stress and anxiety, and about how we can reach out to each other, especially to children in our community more effectively.
Here to lead this discussion is a distinguished panel of experts:
I would also like to take a moment to acknowledge Assistant Secretary of State and Chief Financial Officer Christopher Burnham for suggesting todayís topic and I want to thank Greta Wilson, Reference Librarian, assigned to the Ralph J. Bunche Library for the wonderful exhibit she has arranged for this program. Please give them all a warm round of applause. (Applause)
At this time it is my pleasure to introduce the first speaker. John Campbell was assigned as Deputy Assistant Secretary in the Bureau of Human Resources in 2001. A career Foreign Service Officer since 1975, his overseas postings have included Lyon, Paris, and Geneva. His assignments here at the Department of State have included Dean, School of Language Studies, Foreign Service Institute; the Bureau of Intelligence and Research; the British Desk; the Bureau for Refugee Programs; the staff of the Under Secretary for Political Affairs; Director of the Office of UN Political Affairs; and Deputy Executive Secretary in the Executive Secretariat. Mr. Campbell has received Superior and Meritorious Honor Awards.
He was born here in Washington, DC and earned B.A. and M.A. degrees from the University of Virginia as well as a Ph.D. from the University of Wisconsin.
Please help me in welcoming him with a warm round of applause. (Applause)
Deputy Assistant Secretary Campbell: Thank you very much, Alan. Good afternoon, on behalf of Ambassador Davis, the Director General of the Foreign Service, Iím delighted to welcome you to this unique Open Forum program.
For more than a year we and especially our children have been focused on terrorism, the events of September 11th, the war in Afghanistan, despite the news today, the potential of a war in Iraq. For those of us who live here in Washington, there was that dreadful period of some weeks where we all lived under the threat of a pair of snipers who at one stage at least appeared to be targeting children.
The purpose of this session today is to talk about how we can help our children in a very practical and concrete way cope with their fears and worries which are well founded. For my part, I would like to start the session off by reminding you that the Department offers a number of programs and services that employees may turn to for support in their parenting efforts. They happen to be offices with which I work very closely so if I have left anybody out, thatís the reason why.
There are informational programs such as this one. There are work life lunch time seminars on parenting. There is a course given at FSI from time to time titled "Raising Resilient Children."
Also, there is a resource referral service called IQ Information Quest. You can use this service any time you want to, to learn what experts like the pediatrician, Barry Braselton, are saying about how to help children cope with violence, trauma, and war. Through this service you can also get copies of useful parenting guides. You can ask IQ Information Quest to research volunteer service opportunities in your community or to find a local counselor or other professionals who specializes in caring for young children.
The Ralph Bunche Library, the place we are right now, should be considered a first resort for knowledge about the related topics of terrorism, efforts to combat terrorism, and other geopolitical information we need to educate ourselves about the sources of terrorism.
There are also a number of excellent personal counseling and advocacy offices here in the Department. They help employees in crisis situations. They provide information on available government benefits and offer expert guidance on any personal or family issue that might challenge you. Let me mention three. There is the Family Liaison Office, it focuses on employees who serve overseas and their family members and it assist both evacuees from overseas posts and individuals who are suffering in a personal crisis. Secondly, the Office of Casualty Assistance, it maintains close relations with the office of victims of crime at the Department of Justice and it can access available financial resources. It also liaises with department offices and external institutions on behalf of individual victims of crime or terrorist acts. Let me conclude with the Employee Consultation Service which offers counseling by experienced professional social workers.
There are materials from all of these offices and organizations mentioned in the material prepared for the library exhibit. Terrorism is about as uncivilized a topic as I can think of. So Iím going to close my remarks by making reference to one of the most civilized people I know of, G.K. Chesterton. G.K. Chesterton said, "Fairy Tales are more than true, not because they tell us that dragons exist, but because they tell us that dragons can be mean."
We have a tale to tell. We have important lessons to teach and that is, if we all work together we can beat the dragon no matter how the dragon is defined. Thank you very much, Alan. (Applause)
Mr. Lang: Thank you, Mr. Campbell for that highly informative presentation. This time it is my pleasure to introduce Dr. Harlan D. Wadley, Director of Mental Health Services.
Dr. Wadley was raised in California but considers the Pacific Northwest home. After training, he was in psychiatric practice in Eugene, Oregon, then spent 8 years traveling and working in a variety of locations in the U.S. and overseas. He joined the Department of State in 1996, and after postings in New Delhi and Pretoria, became Director of Mental Health Services this summer. Please join me in welcoming Dr. Wadley. (Applause)
Dr. Wadley: Thanks, Alan, and thanks for inviting me to this forum. Itís indeed a pleasure and an honor to speak to you. Iím just going to speak briefly and explain a little bit about the Office of Medical Services and the division that I run, the Mental Health Service, but also give you some comments and some thoughts in my experience working with children overseas, especially around this issue.
There certainly is no doubt that weíre entering a somewhat unpredictable, uncertain, and somewhat tense environment both here in Washington, but certainly overseas as terrorism becomes a growing concern. It affects us all, certainly, but the most vulnerable are certainly our children. So it becomes incumbent upon us as parents to address the needs and the anxieties of our children and it becomes incumbent as well upon the services such as what my service provides to help parents do that in an effective and ongoing way.
Just some key points that I would like to bring up and perhaps they would get reinforced as our further speakers addresses. First of all, it is important to keep in mind that children do not have the coping skills that we adults have. They havenít developed those coping skills quite to that extent. So we can assume to the extent that theyíre aware of some of the issues that we are aware of. Their ability to cope and manage those issues is not going to be quite as good as ours so they need a little extra support as a result of that.
Itís also fair to say that the needs of children differ depending upon the age group. Younger children need support in a different way than adolescents do. It is important to recognize what those differences are.
A number of factors determine how a individual child will react to any given stressful environment. Some children use the word resilient. I think thatís a good overall way of describing all of our coping mechanisms. Some children are more resilient than others. Some children need more support than others. Some need it in a different way than others. So itís important not to categorize all children in the same way but to individualize our approaches. Those of us who are parents certainly see that our children are indeed very, very different from each other even within the same family. We need to attend to individual differences as weíre helping them cope and manage terrorism issues.
Itís also important to keep in mind that all responses, all issues for children are normal. We just live in a very abnormal kind of environment. So one child may have a reaction that is normal for that child, but very different or perhaps or even opposite reaction that we might see in another child.
To me, I think the essential task is the development of a family and community system which monitors and addresses the needs of each of our children. This system is stronger and better for the child to the extent that the child is first of all heard and understood, so listening becomes an essential part of managing a childís needs. Itís also important that the child feels cared about, feels loved, feels acknowledged. Itís important that their fears be acknowledged, that they be fostered in terms of an expression. Verbal expression of all kinds of fears whether theyíre realistic or not is extremely important so that the parent can enter into this process with the child, so the child does not feel somehow that they are wrong in what they feel but that they are in fact being heard. It is important for the child to have someone or somebody on which to lean.
The Employee Consultation Services, run by Anne Weiss and under the Office of Medical Services and the Division of Mental Health Services, has a extremely capable team of social workers who will help in many different ways to educate, to learn, and to handle, and get counseling for families and children. This includes referral sources into the community. The Office of Mental Health Services also stations 13 regional psychiatrist overseas that cover from 15 to 30 posts. These psychiatrists are well trained in handling family issues related to terrorism as well as other stresses that are seen overseas. They make routine visits to their posts once or twice a year depending upon the need, and are always ready to meet the needs of those posts, especially of the families involved. Washington certainly has a wide array or resources and intense concentration on mental health services. In that sense, the Employee Consultation Service and the Office of Mental Health Services are especially important elements for the State Department. Weíll continue this process and weíll continue to adapt to the needs of this location and our overseas families in order to provide the best services that we can as we struggle through this new environment. (Applause)
Mr. Lang: Thank you, Dr. Wadley for those insightful comments. Now itís my pleasure to say a few words about our next speaker, Mary Livingston Azoy. She graduated from Princeton University with a degree in Religion, and has Masters Degrees in Psychological Services and in Anthropology from Marymount and the University of Virginia, respectively. She is highly regarded for her work as a Critical Incident Response trainer. She has been a valuable member on both the CrisisLink team and on the national team for the National Organization for Victim Assistance.
Ms. Azoy worked with various local groups on issues involving stress and trauma in aftermath of Sept. 11th. She is a registered trainer in several suicide prevention models and she offers workshops and seminars on this issue throughout the community. She was also a foreign service spouse for 20 years, living with her husband and two sons in Bolivia, Ecuador, Spain, Mexico, and Germany. Please join me in welcoming Mary Livingston Azoy. (Applause)
Ms. Azoy: Thanks Alan. Thank you all for coming. I just want to acknowledge the kids in the audience. Iím really glad youíre here. I know itís kind of intimidating but please feel free to correct me in anything that I might have to say on your behalf because youíre really the experts on how you feel.
Pamela and I were talking a little bit in the beginning and we donít want to duplicate what each other has to offer to you so Iím going to talk for a few minutes and then Pamela is going to come up and talk. We just changed it around a little bit, if thatís okay, and then Iím going to come back.
Terrorism is frightening to everybody and everybody responds to it in quite different ways. Itís important to remember that feeling traumatized is a very normal reaction to abnormal circumstances. Some statistics show that between 80 and 90% of both adults and kids adjust fairly well in the aftermath of terrorist activities and within a short period of time they are able to move on with their lives. Others take longer to reestablish that sense of security and equilibrium.
I know that Dr. Wadley already talked about this. Kids can be especially vulnerable to trauma that results from terrorism and other acts of violence, and the population that Iím speaking to today certainly is in a more vulnerable position. Youíre out there overseas an awful lot of the time and then back in Washington thinking youíre safe and all of a sudden youíre not safe here either.
There are several factors that play a role in how a child reacts to threat nor actual terrorist activity. I want to talk very, very broadly about that. Then Pamela is going to talk in much greater detail with the age levels as a factor. In general, of course, and this is almost too obvious to bear restating but I will anyway -- the more direct the exposure the higher the risk of a traumatic reaction. If a friend or a family member has been killed or injured or if the childís home or school or neighborhood has been threatened or damaged or destroyed, thereís a much greater chance that he or she is going to experience difficulties. That said, that second-hand exposure can be very traumatic too, and we have seen that through the kids reactions and our own reactions, actually, to the media coverage of 9-11 and the recent sniper attacks in Washington.
Any child who has been subjected to violence or otherwise traumatic situations earlier in life or anyone with existing mental health problems like anxiety or depression is especially vulnerable to re-traumatization. So itís one more piece of wood on the woodpile for a lot of people who have a hard time being resilient and coping with the everyday stresses. Being traumatized on top of previous trauma can be really devastating and require particular attention.
A childís developmental age effects the nature of his or her response and Pamela is going to talk more about that. Itís very helpful to know the symptoms of traumatic distress for the various age groups.
One thing that I will get back to at the end is that kids are particularly sensitive to your reactions to trauma and disaster. How you respond to your kids needs during this time is a really crucial factor for helping him or her cope in a healthy manner. Youíll see that doesnít mean stuffing your own feeling as in stuffing your own responses but there are certainly guidelines to be aware of as you share those feelings and responses with your child because your child takes basically his or her cue from you. Iím going to be back in a little while but Pamela has some really important that she needs to share with you first.
Mr. Lang: Thank you so much. For the benefit of thousands of my colleagues who will view this program by B-Net, I just like to take just a moment to tell you a little bit about our next speaker, Pamela McCoy Ota, a certified school psychologist employed in Prince Georgeís County, Maryland. She has been employed in the county for 31 years, first as a regular education teacher for 15 years and then as a special education teacher for 10 years. She has been a school psychologist for the past 6 years. Mrs. Ota has served on Crisis Intervention teams in the school system following events such as accidental deaths of students, suicide attempts of students, deaths of teachers, and during 9-11.
Most recently she worked closely with the administration, staff, and students at Benjamin Tasker Middle School during the sniper crisis. She has been assigned to Benjamin Tasker as part of her regular assignment for the past four years. Please join me in welcoming her with a warm round of applause. (Applause)
Ms. Ota: I find it very, very interesting how each of us has essentially a lot of elements that are the same to talk to you about. Thatís kind of comforting as a professional to know that we are all kind of talking on the same page as well. Iím going to pick up where Mary stopped here and I wanted to talk to you specifically about age groups and some reactions that you may or may not see and why that might happen.
In general terms, when a child is traumatized thereís often a regression. Behaviors that you havenít seen for awhile may resurface again. If your child is beyond bedwetting and thumb-sucking, they may regress to some of these behaviors. If you havenít seen nightmares for ages, all of sudden there may be some nightmares. There may be sleep disturbances. There may be an avoidance of fear of the dark or an avoidance of wanting to go to bed at night because itís dark and youíre lonely in there by yourself. They want to come crawl into bed with you more often. Your teenagers and pre-adolescents and adolescents who are beginning to move off, you might find them sticking a little closer to home again. Children at any age may tend to be a little more clingy.
You may find no reaction. You may get some silliness. I find elementary school ages sometimes will act really silly about things. That is probably because children donít have the same coping mechanisms that weíve managed to acquire as adults. They donít know what to do with those feelings, and sometimes they come out in what we adults consider to be inappropriate manners. Sometimes it looks like theyíre being silly or theyíre not being empathetic or theyíre just not reacting the way we think.
Again, as we heard, all of those things are normal. Our job is to be acccepting of all of those and help the child learn some of those coping mechanisms. There are opportunities for us as parents and as adults in the lives of children to be able to help them learn necessary skills for adulthood. Cognitively, when you have been traumatized, itís a lot harder to concentrate so attention spans are probably going to get shorter.
Teachers are going to find some behavior changes in schools. Schools can be very helpful to you in that way in giving you some feedback if you have some concerns. There are lots of people in the school systems to help you out. First of all, and very importantly, your childís teacher, because they are the ones who are the most intimately aware of and know your child the best. The next is probably the counselor because the counselor or counselors in the school would have a pretty good barometer or a little broader base of the students in the school and perhaps the students in their particular case load. Next, would be the folks like myself who are in a variety of buildings, usually, the school psychologist and the people personnel worker, often a person who is not really recognized in some of this pile of what goes on. Weíre the folks who come kind of from the outside.
As I tell the staffs that I happen to deal with, most recently in the case of Benjamin Tasker, exactly what I just said to you, "You know the students. You know them the best. Iím here to help you out. You tell me what you need from me. How can I help you out? How can I fill in with the kids?" Personnel workers would operate in the same manner. So anyway thereís going to be quite often disruptions in thinking and difficulty with concentrating.
As we heard, lots of things can trigger reactions from kids, not only what they watch on TV, but sights and sounds, smells, and their visual stimuli, and Iíll digress on that for you in a second. I truly believe, and research says to limit the amount of exposure. To sit hour after hour, for children watching whatís going on in TV, and playing those events over and over really is a vehicle for either re-victimizing them or making them secondary victims and for raising their level of anxiety and probably for us adults as well. Everyone needs to and wants to have some of the detail but itís probably not necessary to replay and replay and replay.
Letís talk about now a couple of different ages and what might be driving some of the behaviors that you might see. We donít often remember that infants can be traumatized in some of this as well. Birth to two years old. Whatís happening here? Thereís no language to put to a lot of this activity and thereís no reference point for them, but that doesnít mean that infants and toddlers are not taking in some of this trauma. They just donít have that language but they do retain sights and sounds and expressions and even smells, depending upon what the event was. You might see some of this emerge later on in their play. When the language starts emerging, itís certainly in particular. They need reassurances and the best way of doing that with infants and toddlers, of course is with physical contact. They need more handling, more hugs, more kisses, more cooing, more speaking in a high voice and all of those wonderful things that we do as parents.
Preschoolers and kindergartners: What are they looking for? They need to be reassured of being safe and that their world is secure. When thereís events like this happening or terrorism, what has happened? What they perceive of as a safe world has suddenly become a not safe world. They may be feeling helpless, powerless, and unable to protect themselves. Theyíre going to feel insecure and fearful. Thatís why they may have nightmares. Thatís why they want to come crawl into bed with you tonight. Thatís why the bed-wetting or the thumb sucking may re-occur.
So, what do they need? They need reassurances. I hear many of the teachers at Benjamin Tasker saying, "Itís not a safe world. How can I go into my classroom and say that to my kids, everythingís going to be okay." Well, weíre still the adults and we still have to cope. Thatís what weíre trying to teach our children. Weíre trying to say, "Yes, a terrible thing did happen. Itís finished and weíre going to be moving on with it to the best to our extent." To the best of our ability, we are reassuring children. What they want to know is that Iím going to be safe. Mommy and Daddy are going to be safe, my brother, my aunt and uncle, my friends are going to be safe.
School age children, ages 7-11: what is it that theyíre looking for? They have a need to understand. They have more cognitive ability. They have more language. By 8 and 9 years, they have a sense of empathy. They can understand not only me as the center of the world but they can understand, "Oh, you had that feeling. That happened to you." They may be preoccupied with detail. They ask the same questions over and over again. Thatís not to make you crazy. That is because they are trying to understand. What we need is patience. Not only just saying it in the same way, with the same words and in a louder voice but explaining it using appropriate language, using vocabulary that youíre sure they understand and not making any assumptions about any of those words. This is an excellent age for reference to the dragons and using stories.
Pre-adolescents and adolescents: What are they looking for? They want to be adults. They want to be viewed as adults. They want to be able to cope, to be able to stand up, and they want to fit in. They need to be recognized for the skills that they do have and they also need to know that theyíre not the only ones feeling this way. We expect that our adolescents are moving out into the world, you may find that theyíre pulling back.
I want to add in one little part here about a population that we donít always talk about in terms of stress and anxiety and trauma. Thatís any of our children who have disabilities. You have to again use a lot of common sense and what are the facilities of that child and what is their need? How do they kind of fit in into this whole spectrum? How much language do they have? They need that same kind of physical contact. The job is really difficult because you have to reach them in different ways. It takes a great deal of patience. Never to forget theyíre not stones. Children with disabilities do take in whatís going on around them and they do need the same kind of extra care as all of our children do.
Ms. Azoy: Just a couple of things. Going back to the signs of stress in kids before I get into how we can help them cope. I have two teenage boys who have very inventive ways of expressing their stress. I want to talk briefly about anxiety and fear that sometimes doesnít look like anxiety and fear. It looks like something else and particularly in kids who are in middle school and high school. I studied a lot about depression and do a lot of work in depression prevention and suicide prevention.
What we see is that, depression itself, as well as, anxiety often doesnít manifest in terms of someone feeling sad and withdrawn. That certainly can be true. Sure, itís all a part of a normal teenage phenomenon, especially the irritability piece of it. But, sometimes it bears a closer look. Sometimes it can be masking depression in a child.
Depression, as we all know these days is a serious illness that can be treated and needs to be treated. Also, I want to mention those unexplained physical complaints can often be signs of depression and anxiety, not only among kids, among adults. We find this often in the male population and Iíll talk about the kids now. For guys, itís sort of not acceptable. Anxiety and fear are seen as showing weakness. So the stress comes out, the fear, the anxiety comes out in a form of a headache or a backache, or a stomachache. Donít ignore those sort of things. Another thing that kids often take on during times of terrorism and violence is a sense of guilt, feeling somehow responsible for what happened. Kids will find a way of feeling guilty about things that they have nothing to do with. So be alert to that possibility.
Suicidal thoughts and gestures: Sure, that can happen, probably not in direct response to the violent world we live in today, but certainly if a kid has been vulnerable to depression in the past the environment and events in the environment can certainly contribute to them thinking about taking their lives.
Let me get on now to talking a little bit more about helping your kids cope and Iím not going to go through it age by age the way Pamela did but there will be some repetition, probably. I basically break down the ways in which we can help, into three categories. First of all, what you say, and that you say and that you talk to your kids. Secondly, that you listen. Thatís probably the piece that I am most partial to. Third, the other things you can do. So letís go back to what you can say. Once again, to reiterate what Pamela said, to reassure them that they will be cared for no matter what. You might get more specific and reassure them that the government, law enforcement or hospitals is relevant to this situation is doing everything possible to keeping them safe. Again, reassuring them that whatever happened was not their fault.
You might let them know that in time our country will recover. With all of the years we have on us, we have a longer perspective than kids do. We know what weíve been through and what weíve survived. Iím about to do a forum in bringing kids together with World War II veterans to talk about the recent terrorists situation, hoping that each will learn from the other about what their very different perspectives are on the current situation. So let them know that life goes on and that the country goes on.
On the other hand, having said all these things it is important not to offer those false reassurances and thatís where specifics can get you in trouble. Letting them know that they will be cared for is very important but we really donít know whatís coming down the pike for us. Itís not in anyoneís best interest to predict specific ways in which things will play out for them. Itís very important not to hide your own fears but to help them understand how youíre coping with them. You can be a real role model for your kids.
The other thing I would suggest is not being afraid to say, "I donít know." There is so many Ďunanswerablesí these days and it can be very important for a kid to understand, particularly in the older ages, that their parents donít know everything, that we donít have the answer to everything. Of course, the teenagers are all too willing to prove that to us on a daily basis. Not being afraid to say, "I donít know" can really enhance the lines of communication between you and your kids.
My favorite part because I train people to be on crisis and suicide hotlines and to listen to people- is the listening piece. Look for opportunities to offer your kids your undivided attention. Encourage them to talk about their reactions. Donít force them, but encourage them. Youíre the best. Youíre the experts on your individual kids and you know the ways in which they disclose information. Some of them will sort of do an information dump on you about their feelings. At 121:00 at night, my younger son is very much like that. When Iím dying to go to bed, this is when he brings up the really important issues. I have to take the time to just sort of sit back down and listen when heís willing to talk. The other one gives me little tiny bit size pieces of how heís feeling. Itís sort of a hit-and-run sort of thing. I have to be careful to be there when that bite comes my way. Normalize but donít minimize there fears and other bad feelings. Once again, itís important to remember that traumatic stress reactions are normal reactions to abnormal circumstances.
Things you can do. Helping them gradually resume their normal routines and reestablish that sense of control is really important. Emphasis on control. We all like to be in control of our lives. One of the things that was most concerting for me during the Sniper situation in Washington is a sense of really feeling out of control of my environment, in a way that Iíd never quite experienced before, not even overseas. So, helping them reestablish a sense of what they can be in control of is very, very important.
Pamela already talked to the point of really tolerating, being patient with behaviors that may be the traumatic reactions and limiting the media exposure. I like to think that with younger kids, special bedtime reassurances might be helpful because going to bed and being there in the dark by yourself can be a very scary time. So hereís a chance to maybe brainstorm a little bit on some special rituals or something to help them feel safe once the lights are out. Even keeping the light on for awhile might be a good idea. Some modifications in their sleep environment might be a great idea.
As an expressive arts therapist, I canít say to much for expressive therapies. I call them therapies. I also call them play. I think play is the therapeutic occupation for kids and adults alike but provide kids with an opportunity for drawing, for writing, for other forms of expressive play. They may want to act things out with their action figures. Thatís great. If they continue to enact the same sort of devastating and violent kinds of situations with those action figures, a discussion might be in hand. You can definitely process all that stuff with them and talk about it.
The other thing that I really urge you to do is to seek professional help if the symptoms persist over time. That doesnít only go for you kids, that goes for yourself. Most of all take care of yourself. If you donít feel strong, you canít be strong for your kids. So try to figure out ways in which you can really take care of yourself, help yourself feel in control of your life. Give yourself plenty of time to do whatever it is that you do to help you cope with this everyday stresses and those same things will serve you well whether it be exercise or taking time out for reading or whatever. Theyíll serve you well in times of crisis, too. At this point Iíll like to hear from you all. (Applause)
Mr. Lang: Iíd like to thank our entire panel for their illuminating remarks this afternoon. At this point Iíd like to open the floor to you for your comments and questions.
Question: Thank you. I enjoyed your discussion and I think we can continue the dialogue especially about taking care of ourselves. I have a newborn and a 7 and 9 year old. We have a full house and we are dealing with it from a personal level. Iím here on behalf of Alice Ray who is a mastermind. She really was able to harness the power of technology as a tool to address some of these very sensitive topics. Sheís an extraordinary woman. Sheís in San Francisco, so thatís why Iím here on her behalf. I bought some materials that will be very useful. Iíd like to also present some of this and leave it for someone. I think itís a great tool. Although it wasnít focused on terror and these topics initially, they respond to contemporary issues. Theyíve created a whole line of products called, "Right Now." For example, theyíre dealing with managing trauma, doing democracy, being cyber-savvy. Particularly, these things can be integrated into the school and into the classroom. It can be used also in after school activities and in correctional facilities. There are many different applications of it. I donít want to monopolize the time. Iím sure thereís many other questions, but this is really an incredible collaboration. I thank you today and I would also like to leave this. At some point in the future, perhaps we can walk you through some of this and maybe it can complement some of the work you already did.
Mr. Lang: Thanks. Any other comments and questions? I know we have some children, here. Iíd like for you to come to the microphone and tell us how you felt during the sniper attacks and how you coped with those feelings.
Question: Hi, my name is Nathan Rosenberger. The sniper attacks, I donít know when they happened but my parents were talking about it a lot. Itís kind of a strange feeling. Iíve been in a lot of terrorist attacks. My hotel was a quarter of a mile away from the Pentagon. I lived in Saudi Arabia for about 9 months now. I have about a year and a half to go. Then I came to this place and heard about the sniper attacks which was really weird. When I hear all of this stuff, I get sad. I wish it wasnít all happening in the world, like fights in Afghanistan. I wish it wasnít all happening but nobody can do anything about it. Iím a little nervous about being here with the sniper attacks. Itís kind of weird. (Applause)
Ms. Ota: One of the things, Nathan, that you said really struck me -- kind of a thing I try to remember to tell the teachers. You are exactly right. There are a lot of things that we canít do anything about. What we try to do is think about some of the things that we can do something about. The first thing that we can often do something about, is how we react to our own feelings. Theyíre real and theyíre there and donít let anyone tell you that theyíre not there. How you act on those things can make a lot of difference. Itís important that we talk about tolerance in schools. At Benjamin Tasker, where the young boy was injured received cards and greetings and support from all over the world due to technology. He received email from literally all parts of the world. An important thing we did there was putting together a scrapbook for him and having it delivered to his family so he can know how much we was thinking about him and how much we cared about him. So there are some things we can do.
Question: My name is Ray Leki. Thank you all for your presentations. I am the director of the Transition Center at the Foreign Service Institute. I just wanted to announce something more than ask a question although I have a question as well. That is that many of us have been working together for some time to support communities both here and overseas. One of the things we are doing at the Foreign Service Institute that I will solicit your help on. The Ambassador of Nairobi and I have entered into a partnership to create two videotapes for our community as a follow on to a previous videotape called Crisis Response, that I hope many of you seen. For those of you who know of kids whoíve encountered stressful and traumatic situations and might be able to talk to each other about it. Iíd be delighted to hear their names. Iím at the Foreign Service Institute. Iím very easy to find. Iíd like to hear more about your experiences describing how parenting changes as a function of normal human experiences in times of crisis? What needs to be on watch out in ourselves and our spouses as we go through crisis here and abroad?
Ms. Azoy: One thing that speaks to your question as well as to what Nathan said. Nathan at one point I think you were saying, Ďyou werenít sure of all the details of the Sniper situation, but you found it very weird and that it made you nervous. Itís really important to explain at the age appropriate level what actually is going on. Especially for kids that donít read the newspaper on a daily basis. What kids do? Thereís a lot they imagine they may or may not have a clear basis in reality. Their imagination take flight and make things a lot scarier than what they really are, not to minimize the scary times. We need to take the time to explain to them whatís been going on.
Dr. Wadley: I think thatís an excellent question, Ray, about parents and how they respond to stressful events and how that effect their parenting skills. It speaks to several things but one is that we tend to have fairly predictable patterns of response to stress. You donít have to think about it in terms of terrorism, necessarily. You can just think about when something is due, when a report is due, or when a cable is out. You just overloaded. What do you do under those circumstances? That will give you lots of clues to decide how youíre going to react as the stress of terrorism also impacts on you. Some of us tend to talk a lot more. Some of us tend to withdraw and go within ourselves. So itís good to ask ourselves individually as parents, what is my typical response? That is likely to be translated into your parenting style as well. You might withdraw from your children. You might withdraw from your family. You need to take care of yourself first, especially and then you are going to be much better able to manage your children and whatever responsibilities you have. It is important to monitor yourself and learn as you pass through these events what you are doing differently. Also, establish a dialogue with your spouse so you can monitor each other and give each other suggestions. That helps with parenting.
Mr. Lang: Once again, Iíd like to thank our panel for a superb presentation. Please give them all another round of applause. (Applause) Iíd like to thank all of you for your thoughtful comments and questions. That concludes todayís discussion on Helping our Children Cope with Terrorism.
Helping Our Children Cope with Terrorism
Books for Adults
Alexander, Debra Whiting. Children Changed by Trauma: A Healing Guide. Oakland: New Harbinger Publications, 1999.
Braiker, Harriet B. The September 11 Syndrome: Seven Steps to Getting a Grip in Uncertain Times. New York; McGraw-Hill Trade, 2002. In Library: BF575.A6B735 2002
Bromfield, Richard. Living with the Boogeyman: Helping Your Child Understand Fear, Terrorism, and Living in a World of Uncertainty. New York: Random House, 2002.
Brooks, Barbara. The Scared Child: Helping Kids Overcome Traumatic Events. Hoboken, NJ: J. Wiley and Sons, 1996.
Canfield, Jack L. Chicken Soup for the Soul of America: Stories to Heal the Heart of Our Nation. Deerfield Beach, FL: Heath Communications, Inc., 2002. In Library: HV6432.C46 2002
Coloroso, Barbara. Parenting Through Crisis: Helping Kids in Times of Loss, Grief, and Change. New York: HarperCollins, 2000.
Emswiler, Mary Ann. Guiding Your Child through Grief. New York: Bantam Books, 2000.
Espeland, Pamela. Helping Children Cope with the Loss of a Loved One: A Guide for Grownups. Minneapolis: Free Spirit Publishing, Inc., 1996.
Fitzgerald, Helen. The Grieving Child: A Parents Guide. New York: Simon & Schuster, 1992.
Gellman, Marc. Bad Stuff in the News: A Guide to Handling the Headlines. New York: SeaStar Books, 2002.
Grollman, Earl A. Talking about Death: a Dialogue between Parent and Child. Boston: Beacon Press, 1991.
Jarratt, Claudia Jewett. Helping Children Cope with Separation and Loss. Boston: Harvard Common Press, 1994.
Johnson, Kendall. Trauma in the Lives of Children: Crisis and Stress Management Techniques for Counselors, Teachers, and Other Professionals. Alameda: Hunger House, Inc., 1998
Kroen, William C. Helping Children Cope with the Loss of a Loved One: a Guide for Grownups. Minneapolis: Free Spirit Pub., 1996.
La Greca, Annette M. Helping Children Cope with Disasters and Terrorism. Washington: American Psychological Association, June 2002.
Matsakis, Aphrodite. I Can't Get Over It: A Handbook for Trauma Survivors. Collingdale: DIANE Publishing Co., 2001.
Monahon, Cynthia. Children and Trauma: A Guide for Parents and Professionals. New York: John Wiley & Sons, Incorporated, July 1997.
OVC Handbook for Coping after Terrorism: A Guide to Healing and Recovery. Washington, DC: U.S. Dept. of Justice, Office of Justice Programs, Office for Victims of Crime, 2001. In Library: HV6431.O8 Ref
Ritchie, Ralph W. First Aid for Disaster Stress Trauma Victims, A Guide and Self-Help Manual for the Lay-Person Treating Disaster Stress Trauma Victims. Springfield: Ritchie Unlimited Publications, 1995.
Rosenbloom, Dena and Mary Beth Williams. Life after Trauma: A Workbook for Healing. New York: Guilford Publications, Inc., 1999.
Schaefer, Dan. How Do We Tell the Children?: A Step-by-Step Guide for Helping Children Two to Teen Cope when Someone Dies. New York: Newmarket Press, 2002.
Schiraldi, Glenn R. The Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder Sourcebook: A Guide to Healing, Recovery and Growth. New York: Contemporary Books; McGraw-Hill, 2000.
Terror, Trauma and Healing: One Year Later. New York: Lichtenstein Creative Media, Incorporated, 2002.
Trozzi, Maria. Talking with Children about Loss: Words, Strategies and Wisdom to Help Children Cope with Death, Divorce, and Other Difficult Times. New York: Perigee Books, 1999.
Van der Kolk, Bessel, et al. Traumatic Stress: The Effects of Overwhelming Experience on Mind, Body and Society. New York: Guilford Publications, Inc., 1996.
Ziegler, Robert G. Homemade Books to Help Kids Cope: An Easy -to-Learn Technique for Parents & Professionals. Washington: American Psychological Association, 1992. (For parents with children ages 4-13)
Books for Children and Teens
Alexander, Debra W. The World I See: A Creative Healing Book. Plainview, NJ: Bureau For At-Risk Youth, 1992. Ages 4-10
Cain, Barbara. Double-Dip Feelings: Stories to Help Children Understand Emotions. Washington: Magination Press, 2001. Ages 4-8
Covey, Sean. The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Teens. New York: Simon & Schuster, 1998. Ages 12-17
Deskin, Gerald and Greg Steckler. When Nothing Makes Sense: Disaster, Crisis, and Their Effects on Children. Minneapolis: Fairview Press, 1997. All Ages.
Duffy, Carol Ann. Stopping for Death: Poems of Death and Loss. New York: Henry Holt & Company, 1996. Ages 12-up
Dunphy, Joan S. The Mouse Family Most Terrible, Terrifying Day: Helping Children Cope with Terrorism Fears. Far Hills: Small Horizon Press Publishers, Inc, 2002. Ages 4-9
Dutro, Jack. Night Light: A Story for Children Afraid of the Dark. Washington: American Psychological Association, 1991. Ages 3-7
Grollman, Earl A. Straight Talk about Death for Teenagers: How to Cope with Losing Someone You Love. Boston: Beacon Press, 1993. Ages 12-17
Holden, L. Dwight. Gran-Gran's Best Trick: A Story for Children Who Have Lost Someone They Love. Washington: American Psychological Association, 1989. Ages 4-12
Holmes, Margaret M. A Terrible Thing Happened: A Story for Children Who Have Witnessed Violence or Trauma. Washington: Magination Press, 2000. Ages 4-8
Mark, Bonnie S. I'll know What to Do: A Kid's Guide to Natural Disasters. Washington: American Psychological Association, 1997. Ages 8-13
Mills, Joyce C. Gentle Willow: A Story for Children about Dying. Washington: American Psychological Association, 1993. Ages 4-8
Pellegrino, Marjorie White. I Don't Have an Uncle Phil Anymore. Washington: Magination Press, 1998. Ages 4-10
American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry. www.aacap.org/
The National Center for PTSD literature base. www.ncptsd.org/
The Red Cross. www.redcross.org/services/disaster/keepsafe/childtrauma.html
American Psychological Association. www.helping.apa.org/daily/ptguidelines.html
National Institute of Mental Health. www.nimh.nih.gov/publicat/violence.cfm
National Organization of School Psychologists. www.nasponline.org/NEAT/specpop.html (tips for helping kids w/special needs)
Released on December 24, 2002