Southern California Children Often Suffer Emotional Trauma From Dog Bites

As a parent, you are so thankful that your child managed to survive the brutal dog attack in a Los Angeles park, neighborhood or other location.  Your fears may have subsided, as your child seemed to have healed fine physically.  Unfortunately, there are some dog bite injuries that cannot be seen physically, including emotional trauma.

When a child is the victim of a Southern California dog attack, things can go downhill rapidly.  If your child has been bitten by a dog, you might start noticing signs that something is wrong emotionally.  Your child’s behavior may be changing.  He or she might be too fearful to go outside, let alone go to school.  Many children who suffer dog bite injuries end up developing symptoms of posttraumatic stress disorder and other persistent psychological problems.

The reaction your child may have to the canine attack will depend on his or her age.  The following is a general guideline based on how old the child is:

Five Years Old and Younger – A child in this age bracket may develop separation anxiety and may cry, whimper or even scream when being separated from a parent or caregiver.  These children could also revert to behaviors, such as thumb sucking, bedwetting and being afraid of the dark.

Six Years Old to Eleven Years Old – When a child in this age range suffers a dog bite injury, he or she may withdrawal or exhibit disruptive behavior.  Children often experience nightmares, sleep disturbances and irrational fears.

Twelve Years Old to Seventeen Years Old – Adolescents who are attacked by dogs often suffer from flashbacks, nightmares, emotional numbness and depression.  These reactions are very similar to what adults experience after an animal attack.

Your Next Step.

If you are a parent whose child has developed a phobia of dogs after being attacked, you may want to know what you can do. Three steps a parent can take to help treat a dog phobia are:

  • Take it slowly. It is important to remember that your child should not be rushed into a face-to-face interaction with a dog. The child should slowly reintroduced to dogs again. Some dog phobia specialists recommend starting with pictures and moving forward from there.
  • Find the right dog. When the child is ready to come face-to-face with a dog again it is important to find the right dog for the encounter. The best dogs are typically older, mellow dogs that will not become rowdy and rambunctious.
  • Educate your son or daughter. Take the time to instruct your child about dog interaction and what to expect when doing so. Teach the child about how the dog may sniff and lick, and what that means.

No matter the symptoms or age of your child, emotional issues can be traumatic. You might be able to hold the dog’s owner liable for your child’s injuries. At Steinberg Injury Lawyers, we specialize in defending the rights of dog bite victims.

If your child has been injured in a dog attack, under California dog bite law, you can pursue compensation from the pet’s owner.  For more information, contact a Santa Monica dog bite lawyer at Steinberg Injury Lawyers at 800-989-6385.

Peter Steinberg, Esq.
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Los Angeles Personal Injury Attorney Since 1982