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Terrorist Attacks Affect Kids Mental Health

Child TVA new study discovers children exposed to terrorist attacks have an increased risk for mental health problems including posttraumatic stress disorder, separation anxiety disorder, and general anxiety disorder.

The report is published in the journal Clinical Psychology: Science and Practice.

Statistically speaking, it is unlikely that the majority of youth will ever experience direct exposure to a terrorist attack. Following a terrorist attack, however, youth are exposed to a substantial amount of attack-related media coverage.

Within this present climate of heightened awareness about terrorism, many children are exposed to what the authors termed “second-hand terrorism,” in which media disproportionately focus on the possibility of being a direct victim of future terrorism. This sets the stage for insecurity, countless false alarms, and persistent anxiety.

Technological advances provide a stage from which terrorist acts can reach a truly vast audience, and news networks further afford unprecedented coverage of terrorism on a global scale. Media-based contact with terrorism can result in substantial amounts of distress in exposed youth.

“Researching youth in the aftermath of terrorist attacks, as well as youth exposed to media presentations about terrorism, is critical to inform service delivery and public policy, and to ensure that the mental health needs of youth are afforded ample resources,” the authors note.

Source: Blackwell Publishing

Terrorist Attacks Affect Kids Mental Health

Rick Nauert PhD

Rick Nauert, PhDDr. Rick Nauert has over 25 years experience in clinical, administrative and academic healthcare. He is currently an associate professor for Rocky Mountain University of Health Professionals doctoral program in health promotion and wellness. Dr. Nauert began his career as a clinical physical therapist and served as a regional manager for a publicly traded multidisciplinary rehabilitation agency for 12 years. He has masters degrees in health-fitness management and healthcare administration and a doctoral degree from The University of Texas at Austin focused on health care informatics, health administration, health education and health policy. His research efforts included the area of telehealth with a specialty in disease management.

APA Reference
Nauert PhD, R. (2018). Terrorist Attacks Affect Kids Mental Health. Psych Central. Retrieved on February 19, 2019, from
Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 8 Aug 2018
Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 8 Aug 2018
Published on Psych All rights reserved.