Mothers and fathers (N = 531) participated in two study waves 4–5 and 14–15 months after the shooting. Posttraumatic stress reactions (PTSS) and anxiety/depression were compared with age- and gender-adjusted expected scores that were calculated from a concurrent population study. Mixed effects models investigated the associations between parental distress, parental guilt, and mental health.
Parents’ level of anxiety/depression was three times higher and PTSS was five times higher than that of the general population. Parental distress and guilt about their child’s traumatic experience contributed uniquely to symptoms at both time points.
Parents of traumatized youth constitute a vulnerable group that has been overlooked in the literature. Intervention strategies following trauma should include both survivors and their parents.