About 4.7 million Americans are bitten by dogs each year. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), almost half of all children under the age of 12 have been bitten by a dog.
In one study, children’s emergency room visits for dog bites was second only to baseball/softball injuries.
How to Avoid Dog Bites
The most important precaution to take to protect children from dog bites is to avoid leaving children alone with a dog – even if it is a family dog. Most dog attacks happen at home or in a familiar place. Almost half of all dog bites among children less than four years old are from the family dog at home.
Dog safety training can greatly reduce the chance of dog bites. Children need to know not to taunt a dog or touch one while it is either eating or asleep. They should know not to approach an unfamiliar dog. Such acts may prompt a nip or bite.
In one study, published in the European Journal of Pediatrics, a single lesson on dog safety incorporated into a school day reduced high risk behaviors towards dogs among kindergarten to middle-school aged children.
After a Dog Bite
The first response is to get the dog under control. Next, seek immediate medical care. If you are unfamiliar with the dog, it is important to learn if it is up-to-date on rabies shots and other vaccinations.
Then, be attentive to signs of emotional trauma caused by the dog bite. Symptoms can include anxiety, depression, and even post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Warning signs include the victim:
- Fearing dogs
- Fearing going outside
- Repeatedly reliving the attack
Emotional Trauma in Children
Children can experience severe emotional and psychological effects from a dog bite. Experts say that from a child’s perspective, being attacked by a dog is similar to an adult facing a growling bear.
Adding to the trauma, children can have a tough time verbalizing their emotions around this event. They may also be reluctant to share if the parent gets upset when the topic of the dog bite is discussed. This can add to the emotional burden of the child.
It is important for a child experiencing emotional trauma to receive proper care, because such trauma can interfere with their normal development. Signs of a problem can include:
- Sleep disturbances
- Being withdrawn
- Bed wetting
- Clinging to parents
If the child is so traumatized that they have PTSD, they can lose the ability to function in daily life. In cases of emotional trauma in children, a mental health professional’s advice and care can be a key component to their recovery.
South Jersey Personal Injury Lawyers at the D’Amato Law Firm Represent Clients Who Have Received a Dog Bite
If your child has been injured by a dog bite, be sure to address emotional as well as physical trauma. You may wonder if you have a case and how to proceed. Our dedicated team will assist in all aspects of your case. Our experienced South Jersey personal injury lawyers at the D’Amato Law Firm will help you recover compensation for dog bite injuries so that your child can get the care they need. Contact us at 609-926-3300 or complete an online contact form to set up your free, no obligation consultation today.
We represent clients throughout southern New Jersey including Atlantic County, Cape May County, Cumberland County, Gloucester County, Burlington County, Salem County, Camden County, and Ocean County.