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Local psychology professor: Sandy Hook students can learn to move on with right kind of support

By Catherine Hawley, Reporter, news@wfmz.com
Published On: Dec 21 2012 04:24:50 PM CST

Psychology professor discusses Sandy Hook tragedy

ALLENTOWN, Pa. -

The little children inside Sandy Hook Elementary school who walked out alive won't soon forget what happened last Friday. But experts say the little ones can learn to move on with the right kind of support.

It's a sad reality. The world will never look the same to the dozens of elementary students who lived through the massacre at Sandy Hook. Psychologists say each child will process this tragedy differently.

"Some kids really do bounce back quite well; they're just a little bit more resilient, other children need a little bit more help, " explained Cedar Crest College Psychology Professor Jane Tyler Ward. "It's not good or bad, it's just different."

The good news is that most kids do bounce back from a single traumatic event, but the healing process can be lengthy.

"They're between 7 and 10, their brains are developing rapidly and they don't know a lot so they're going to take everything from the people around them."

She says most kids don't understand concepts like death, so sometimes it's hard for children to express their feelings.

"They'll begin to understand as they get older," said Ward. "But it's going to take a little bit older mind to understand it."

Ward says getting things back to normal for the pupils as quickly as possible at home and at school is key. In the long run parents and professionals will need to help the children think about and digest the shooting as they get older.

"It's going to come up for many of these children again and again and they'll have to reprocess the information again and again."

But it could be a different story for the kids who witnessed the Sandy Hook attack.

According to Ward it's because the images stay with the little ones longer.

"If any of children witnessed this and lived, it is going to be very difficult for them because now they have the visual images," shared Ward. "Every time you see something that reminds you of this, every time you hear something that reminds you of this that emotion is going to come up."