THE MEDIA > 2 PILLARS ARE CRUCIAL TO HELPING CHILDREN ADJUST
The New York Times
Sept. 11, 2002
The community I've been concerned about and working with is the
West Side of downtown: Tribeca and Battery Park City. I have two
sons, ages 9 and 6, who were attending P.S. 234. On the morning
of Sept. 11, I had just dropped them off and was returning home
when I heard the crash and looked up and saw the debris flying.
Many of the children in the school as well as other schools downtown
really saw everything, including people falling or jumping out of
The research shows that family and community support are the most
important factors in preventing long-term mental health problems
and P.T.S.D. after a massive, traumatic event like this. One of
the first things we did in the school was have all the mental health
professionals who were also parents set up a family support network
so that people could drop in any time to talk about different problems
they were facing.
This was at a time when almost all the focus from the school board
was on screening children for P.T.S.D. and on offering counseling
to the kids who'd been identified as having a problem. Which we
know from other situations is not the best way to approach this
problem because it's very difficult to identify which kids are having
the most problems. Just because they're speaking about it or showing
some behavioral difficulties doesn't mean they're eventually going
to have problems. The best way to help all kids is to support the
adults who are taking care of the kids.
We also created community recovery forums, a collaboration among
parents' associations at the different schools. One goal was to
affirm the competency of the parents and teachers and make them
feel that it's not only experts with some trauma specialization
who know how to help these kids.
Solt for The New York Times
JACK SAUL Psychologist and director of the International Trauma
Studies Program at New York University.