Geoffrey Branger / Photo credit: OLIVIER CHASSIGNOLE / AFP 12:04 p.m., June 10, 2023

In Annecy, the emotion remains intense, 48 hours after the knife attack that injured six people in a playground. In addition to the direct victims, many children witnessed the scene and such a tragedy can leave traces in the minds of the youngest. So how can we help them live with this memory?

Nearly 48 hours after the knife attack in Annecy, which injured six including four children aged 22 months to 3 years, the emotion is still intense. On the spot Friday, Emmanuel Macron gave positive news of their state of health. But what about their psychic state, to them, as well as to all those who witnessed the attack? Psychological cells have been set up, but such a tragedy could inevitably leave traces, especially in the minds of the youngest.

Risk of difficulties in adulthood

We often tend to think that the younger we are, the less exposed we are to traumatic events. This may be true in some cases, but it should not be taken lightly. "Psychological trauma is obviously linked to a difficulty in digesting what we see and it has implications with nightmares, anxiety disorders, revivals even during the day, and which can settle over a long period," explains Stéphane Clerget, child psychiatrist.

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A trauma that can continue them for several years even, and even in their adult life if the problem is not well managed, leading to psychiatric or behavioral complications. Hence the importance of being well accompanied and talking about it.

"When you are the parent of a child who has been a witness, obviously, you have at heart who tells you so that they can get rid of it as much as possible. It means he can take a step back. He was a witness, but he was not involved, "says the child psychiatrist.

Talk about it with the little ones

A lot of support work must therefore be done for these young witnesses, even if as a parent, it is sometimes complicated to talk about it with the little ones. In any case, the important thing is to answer their questions while reassuring them, explaining to them that they are not threatened, that what happened is far from home and especially that the aggressor has been arrested and that he is unable to harm.

In any case, we must not evacuate the subject: if a child asks the question, it is because he needs an answer. Brushing it aside won't help.