In Wake of Shooting, Experts Say Kids May Experience Trauma

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Angels hang from a tree outside of St. Rose Church in Newtown, Conn., after the deadly shooting at nearby Sandyhook Elementary School.

The children who lived through the Connecticut school shooting could have trouble concentrating or become more irritable.

Moira Rynn, deputy director of research psychiatry at Columbia University, says young children may not have the ability to articulate what they're experiencing.

“[The kids] may not talk about the actual event, but they will do very traumatic type play, with their toys and their dolls,” Rynn said. “They may not talk about a specific event, but you will see them acting out dangerous things happening to the doll they loved.”

Rynn says parents should provide a safe environment for children to express their feelings, have a dialogue and stick to their routine and reach out to experts if the symptoms persist.

Judie Alpert, a professor of applied psychology at NYU, says that while children have different and varied reactions to traumatic events, many are also able to put it behind them.

“We have to expect this grieving, this inability, difficulty sleeping initially,” Alpert explained. “But in time most people are quite resilient and just get on with their lives. This goes for adults and children.”