On School Shootings and What Kids Need to Hear from You

February 17, 2018

17 innocent people were gunned down at their high school in Florida by a 19 year old expelled former student with a history of violence and mental illness.  The gunman used a semi automatic weapon, and in 6 minutes he destroyed lives and trust and made us again question the meaning of all this tragedy.

 

All the cable news channels rushed to the scene.  Countless witnesses and loved ones are telling their tales of horror and heartache.  Political leaders are sending their 'thoughts and prayers', and the funerals will commence soon.

 

America, sadly, is well versed in school shootings and mass killings. 

 

While the adults debate what needs to take place to end the violence, the kids are absorbing what they hear (some full news coverage, others bits and pieces of what they read on social media or hear on the school bus.) 

 

How do you talk to kids about school violence?  Here are a few suggestions:

 

 

  • An elementary school student needs to hear that he/she is safe and protected at school, that teachers and principals are making sure the doors on the outside of the school are locked, and the police are taking extra special care to make sure everyone in town is safe.

 

  • For middle schoolers:  this is the time to make sure they understand that making jokes about guns and violence are not appropriate!  Sometimes kids express their anxiety with humor or sarcasm, but just like we know not to talk about bombs at airports, we need to make sure our kids know that we don't talk about guns or threats of shootings on social media -- ever.  And if they know someone who does, let them know you need to know ASAP!  

 

  • For high school students, engage them in dialogue.  Ask them how they feel about the shooting and if they are concerned for their own safety.  Listen to them tell you about the 'shelter in place' drills that occur in schools as precautions or what they read on social media or see on TV that brings them to tears.  Emphasize the fact that if they know something -- anything -- that could avert another shooting, they need to come to you or a teacher with that information.  Empower them to make good choices and to keep their eyes open for their safety and the safety of others.

 

All kids need to feel safe.  Discuss precautions that schools and families can take to ward off violence, and emphasize that there are plans in place every day to ensure their safety.  

 

Do bad things happen?  Yes, unfortunately, and this is a lesson in life that you need to teach your kids.  Being honest and open is important.  Then hug your kids (yes, even the big ones who will pull away!) and tell them that you love them with all of your heart and soul.  

 

Life is good.  Let's not forget that in the shadow of all the violence.  Let's take that goodness and push for legislative changes so we don't have to continue having these painful discussions with our kids even one more time.  

 

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"To thine own self be true." ~ William Shakespeare

 

About Amy:

 

Amy Shore is a Licensed Professional Counselor and a National Certified Counselor in Sugar Land, TX who provides counseling to adults, teens, and tweens.  She specializes in adoption related concerns (birth parents, adoptive parents, foster parents, children in foster care, adoptees), anxiety, depression, identity issues (adoption, gender, sexuality), family/school conflicts, and life transitions.  You can learn more about her and her therapy/consulting services at www.amyshorecounseling.com.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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