Post Traumatic Stress Symptoms in Children (PTSS-C)

A 30-item tool used to assess for and diagnose PTSD in children affected by various forms of trauma. The tool’s first 17 items are dedicated to PTSD (based on DSM criteria), while the remaining 13 questions focus on child-specific stress reactions to trauma that are unrelated to PTSD (i.e. hyperactivity). Moreover, the DSM-based items (1-17) are grouped according to the classic triad of diagnostic PTSD symptoms—re-experiencing (items 1-4), avoidance (items 5-11), and hyper-arousal (items 12-17). All items contain Yes (1) or No (0) response options. A diagnosis of PTSD is warranted when a child answers “Yes” to at least one item relating to re-experiencing, three avoidance items, and two items of hyper-arousal. The tool is administered via a semi-structured interview and averages approximately 30 minutes for administration. Interviewers should have experience working with children, and undergo a short training on the PTSS-C prior to conducting interviews.

Related Publications

Balaban, V. (2006). Psychological assessment of children in disasters and emergencies. Disasters, 30(2), 178-198.

Balaban, V. F., Steinberg, A. M., Brymer, M. J., Layne, C. M., Jones, R. T., & Fairbank, J. A. (2005). Screening and assessment for children’s psychosocial needs following war and terrorism. NATO Security Through Science Series E Human AND Societal Dynamics, 4, 121.

Ahmad, A., von Knorring, A. L., & Sundelin-Wahlsten, V. (2008). Traumatic experiences and post-traumatic stress disorder in Kurdistanian children and their parents in homeland and exile: An epidemiological approach. Nordic Journal of Psychiatry,62(6), 457-463.

What it measures

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)



Children exposed to various forms of trauma, disaster, and violence


Ahmad, A., Sundelin-Wahlsten, V., Sofi, M. A., Qahar, J. A., von Knorring, A. L. (2001) Reliability and validity of a child-specific cross-cultural instrument for assessing posttraumatic stress disorder. European Child & Adolescent Psychiatry, 9(4), 285-94.