The attack of an aggressive dog often happens unexpectedly, and the results can be devastating for victims in California. While the most obvious immediate effects are often physical, it is important not to overlook the emotional distress that can occur. Children are particularly susceptible to the psychological trauma resulting from a dog bite because they are often less equipped to process their experiences and share their emotions adequately. In fact, according to Pediatric EM Morsels, many children who were victims of these attacks develop post-traumatic stress disorder. The emotional effects are even more severe when the child knew the dog, which is sometimes the case. Parents and other adults in California should be aware of signs of distress, such as withdrawal, behavioral issues, and changes in appetite and sleeping patterns.
The organization Doggone Safe, with the help of a licensed psychiatrist, offers advice to parents about how to help their children who have been bitten. Throughout the entire coping process, an overarching principle is encouraging the child to express his or her emotions. Parents should also try to keep their own emotions in check as much as possible, so that the child does not feel unnecessary guilt for causing pain and sadness.
The child must never be blamed for the attack. Out of concern for the child's future safety, it may be tempting for an adult to say that he or she should not have walked to a certain spot or acted in a certain way to attract the dog's attention, but such accusations at this traumatizing time are only hurtful. If the child continues to display signs of distress and is unwilling to communicate, it may be time to seek the help of a professional counselor.