It is very difficult as a parent to see your child suffer. Unfortunately, children are affected by many of the same crimes as adults. Burglary, robbery, assault, harassment and emotional, physical and/or sexual abuse are some of the more common crimes that impact children.
Obviously there is a wide variation in how children react to crime depending on the type of crime, where the crime happens, how much the children see and know of what happened, how others around the children react, and what happens in the immediate aftermath of the crime. In general, being a direct victim of crime has a greater impact than being a witness to crime.
Some common reactions from parents when their child has been a victim or witness are:
Your child may:
Always remember, every child is different. Your child will react in his/her own unique way.
Children will take their cue from you. Although it is good to tell them that you are affected (if you are) it is better not to talk to them in detail about your own fears, anger, or anxiety. Children need reassurance that this is something that you can cope with. It is important for you to talk about your own reactions in private to a supportive adult, so that your children are not further upset by seeing how upset you are.
What you can do to support your child
It is important to help them talk openly about what happened. Asking them and talking to them about how they were affected can reassure them that whatever they are feeling now is okay, and that most people feel affected by such incidents. Some children don’t want to talk about it. That’s fine too. It’s important that you give them the opportunity to talk, and not push them if they don’t. You will be the best judge of this.
It is advisable to let your child’s teacher/school know what is going on and to avail of any support offered by the school, such as counselling.