In school, at home or on social media, children and teens are thinking and talking about the approaching anniversary of 9/11. They may be asked: Where were you on that day 10 years ago? Or: How will you mark the anniversary?
As the date approaches, and with it the painful memories of the event and its aftermath, some Americans may choose quiet introspection, while others may seek the company of other people with whom to share their feelings. Still others will participate by tuning in to media coverage. Many organizations and cities are offering ways to remember the day by taking actions to spread peace. Positive messages will be communicated, yet children and adolescents may experience anxiety around this time.
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) reminds families, schools, media and other groups to give special thought to children as they plan for the anniversary and the days leading up to it. The AAP is offering resources to help ease feelings of remembered trauma and loss, to encourage healthy discussion around the day, and to reassure children by telling them what their families, schools and government officials do to keep them safe.
“Kids are resilient. But the adults in their lives need to be aware that at times like these, children and teens may have questions or need help processing their feelings,” said Steven Krug, MD, FAAP, Chair of the AAP’s Disaster Preparedness Advisory Council. He added, “When reacting to or remembering disasters, children should be encouraged to take positive actions, and should be included in conversations about how we not only should prepare for adversity, but how we can learn from it and make things better.”
In addition to the upcoming anniversary, September is National Preparedness Month, an ideal time to have some of these discussions in the home and community.
Regarding disasters, pediatricians can be helpful to their patients and their communities both in preparing for children’s needs and responding to them. The AAP offers the following resources:
These and many other tips, tools and articles related to specific kinds of disasters can be found on the new National Preparedness Month page of AAP Web site.
More articles for parents are available on the AAP’s Healthy Children Web site.
At federal, state and local levels, the AAP advocates for adequate systems to ensure that the needs of children—nearly 25 percent of the U.S. population—will be met in disaster response and recovery efforts. Assessing and planning for these needs presents unique challenges, and the AAP urges greater attention to these needs in the context of government planning and exercises; medical capabilities; training of first responders; and preparedness levels of hospitals, government agencies, schools, communities and homes.
The AAP supports the reauthorization of the Pandemic and All-Hazards Preparedness Act (PAHPA), a law first enacted in 2006 to improve the nation’s public health and medical preparedness and response capabilities for emergencies. As the legislation moves through Congress, the AAP urges leaders in Washington, D.C. to redouble efforts to prioritize the needs of children, including children with special heath care needs. For more information go to the AAP Web site.
As every family ponders the messages of the 9/11 anniversary and National Preparedness Month, the AAP reminds parents to consider their own pediatrician as a resource when it comes to helping children at difficult times.
According to Dr. Krug, “As the nation remembers together, it is important to show children and teens how the adults in their lives are securing their future.”
The AAP is a partner in the National Preparedness Month Coalition.
The American Academy of Pediatrics is an organization of 60,000 primary care pediatricians, pediatric medical subspecialists and pediatric surgical specialists dedicated to the health, safety and well being of infants, children, adolescents and young adults. For more information, visit www.aap.org.