Only recently has the mental health community recognized the applicability of diagnostic criteria for posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in children and adolescents, including a consideration of specific age-related features. This paper provides a current review of the literature on PTSD pertaining to children and adolescents. Following a discussion of issues on diagnostic criteria and assessment of this affective disorder in this population, there is an overview of the existing literature on prevalence, comorbidity, risk factors, parental and family factors, and issues of gender and age of onset. The remainder of the paper focuses on the range of traumatic stressors in children and adolescents that can result in PTSD, including natural or human disasters, war and violence, chronic or life-threatening medical conditions, community violence and the witnessing of traumatic events, and physical and/or sexual abuse and other forms of interpersonal violence. Throughout the paper, there is an emphasis on the importance of considering developmental factors. Finally, implications of the existing literature for future areas of research are addressed.
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