How to Talk with Kids About School Shootings
Mental Health America offers the following suggestions for teachers and parents as they begin discussions with young people regarding the recent school shootings in Chardon, Ohio:
- Talk honestly about the incident, without graphic detail, and share some of your own feelings about it. It is important that students feel informed.
- Encourage students to talk about their concerns and to express their feelings, and validate the young person’s feelings and concerns.
- Limit television viewing. It can be difficult for children to process the images and messages in news reports.
- Empower young people to take action about their own school safety. Encourage them to share their concerns about school safety with school officials.
- Recognize what may be behind a young person’s behavior. They may minimize their concerns outwardly, but may become argumentative, withdrawn or allow their school performance to decline.
- Keep the dialogue going even after media coverage subsides. Continue to talk about feelings and discuss actions being taken to make schools and communities safer.
- Seek help when necessary. If you are worried about a young person’s reaction or have ongoing concerns about his or her behavior or emotions, contact a mental health professional at their school or at your community mental health center. Your local Mental Health America affiliate can direct you to resources in your community.
“Our hearts go out to the families of the victims of the Chardon, Ohio, shootings. It is still too early to know yet why this individual took a firearm to a school and shot students,” said David Shern, Ph.D., president and CEO of Mental Health America.
“We do know that events like this will impact students and families in Chardon and the nation. Many students may feel at risk and may experience feelings of anxiety and fear. Parents may be groping with how to discuss these and similar events with their children.”
Mental Health America is a century-old nonprofit group dedicated to promoting mental health, preventing mental and substance use conditions and achieving victory over mental illnesses and addictions through advocacy, education, research and service.
Source: Mental Health America
Pedersen, T. (2012). How to Talk with Kids About School Shootings. Psych Central. Retrieved on April 19, 2015, from http://psychcentral.com/news/2012/03/01/how-to-talk-with-kids-about-school-shootings/35433.html