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Boston Marathon Attack May Have Triggered PTSD In Local Kids

A new study says kids who were near the bombing site were six times more likely to have PTSD symptoms than kids who weren't.
Posted at 8:54 PM, Jun 02, 2014

Last year's Boston Marathon bombing left an indelible scar on the city and now a new study shows many children who were near the finish line might be experiencing the effects of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

"​​Boston University surveyed 460 parents in the Boston area. They found 11 percent of kids who attended the marathon last year had nightmare, anxiety and flashblacks of the event." (Via WFXT)

According to the journal Pediatrics, where the findings were published, that 11 percent is about six times higher than in kids who were not at the bombing site, which took the lives of three people and injured more than 250 others.

A similar long-term study published in 2010 found increased PTSD rates among New York City children after the 9/11 terrorist attacks. (Via Psych Central)

The lead researcher told NBC the duration of the tragedy played a big role.

"There was an enormous mental health toll associated with direct exposure. ... And there also was a toll with kids exposed to the manhunt, which was an unfolding and uncontained situation that lasted much longer than the bombing itself."

That brings us right to the study's second finding, regarding TV consumption.

It found local children watched about 1.5 hours of television coverage of the bombing on the day of the attack, but about 21 percent watched more than double that amount. Those who sat in front of the screen longer had a higher chance of PTSD. (Via WNBC, CNN)

The Boston Globe points out that only a third of parents forbid their kids from watching either replays of the bombing or the prolonged manhunt that broadcast for several days after.

The study's author does note showing PTSD symptoms doesn't necessarily mean kids have the disorder.

According to the U.S. National Institute of Mental Health, to receive a formal diagnosis of PTSD the symptoms need to stick around for more than a month. This particular study didn't follow up with the kids after the initial survey.

Still, a child psychologist said the gravity of media over-exposure during traumatic events like these is cause for concern. "If there is a child who shouldn't be watching an R-rated movie, they shouldn't be watching news coverage that shows the same amount of violence or aggressive behavior." (Via HealthDay News)