Helping Children Through The Emotional Trauma Of Ferguson

Source: Sandra Jordan /

Whether you saw it first-hand on the streets, on smartphones or on your television at home, the graphic and disturbing images of the killing of unarmed teenager Michael Brown, and the ensuing demonstrations and violent aggression toward protests by night, leaves an indelible mark on the nation’s history. Peaceful protests shattered by the ear-screeching bullhorns from military-style vehicles, teargas canisters and rubber bullets fired on citizens and journalists by police in riot gear – those eerie images raced around the globe and can be relived as quickly as you can click “play” or visit a URL link.

Children often see things on TV that they do not fully understand. Traumatic events can cause anxiety, fear, stress and a range of emotions, particularly for children, who must rely on trusted adults in their lives to help them sort out what they have witnessed.

“The whole event is likely to create a tremendous amount of anxiety among kids because it’s all very frightening, said child psychiatrist Joshua Calhoun, M.D. “It can also create very stressful dreams. One of the ways we have for dealing with a lot of the day’s residue is working through them in our dreams … and kids certainly do it a lot in their play and in their activities.”

Calhoun is medical director at Hawthorn Children’s Psychiatric Hospital, a 52-bed inpatient facility in St. Louis County. He said youngsters want to their questions answered and want to learn from adults on how they handle disturbing situations. If they have not had such discussions, Calhoun said they need to have them now with any teenager or any young person in their household.

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