The National Association of School Psychologists has some advice for parents and teachers.
At least 19 students and two adults were killed in a shooting at Rob Elementary School in Uwald, Texas. Governor Greg Abbott said Tuesday.
The 18-year-old suspect, a Uwald High School student, also died, according to Abbott.
The suspect also allegedly shot his grandmother before entering the campus, the governor said, without elaborating on her circumstances.
In the aftermath of a deadly mass shooting, many parents struggle to explain the horrific behavior of gun violence to their children and teens, an environment most children spend most of their day in.
“School is a safe and supportive environment for most teenagers,” said Dr. Robin Gurwitch, a licensed clinical psychologist and Duke University Medical Center professor, told ABC News after 17 people, including students, were killed at Marjory Stoneman-Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, in 2018.
“So when there’s a shooting at a school, it destroys our worldview that I can be in a safe place,” she added.
Witness Isaias Melendez described a chaotic, emotional climb outside Uvald Robe Elementary School in Texas, when a school shooting killed 14 students and a teacher.
Gurwitch, a member of the National Childhood Trauma Stress Network, explains how parents can discuss the news with their children and help them feel safe in the wake of distressing headlines.
Gurwitch stressed that in situations such as mass tragedies, it is “extremely important” that parents and carers – especially those with high school children – “be prepared to ask this question.”
“We really wanted to hug them and make them feel safe,” she added. “But part of being a parent is being willing to discuss difficult issues.”
“It’s wishful thinking to think that our kids don’t know these events are happening,” Gurwitch said. “We live in an age where real-time information on school leavers and responders is available online, which is updated every few minutes.”
Gurwitch recommends that when you watch the news with your kids, turn them off and talk about the events calmly to understand what they know, where they come from, and any misunderstandings they may have heard.
At least 14 elementary school students were killed when a gunman broke into the campus, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott confirmed.
Gurwitch added that it was also important to reassure children that parents and adults at their school “will do everything we can to keep you safe”.
“Let them know that their school plans to do everything it can to keep them safe,” she said.
Gurwitch stressed that the conversation about news should vary based on the age of the child.
“I used the analogy of ‘this is the same conversation about where babies come from’ — it’s a very different conversation when I’m talking to a preschooler or elementary student than when I talk to a high school student,” Gurwitch said. .
Turning to preschoolers and younger, she added that parents should limit their exposure to the media.
“Preschoolers may not understand instant repetition,” she said. “So the kids in this cycle are out of school and when they don’t know it’s a replay, they think there are thousands of students in the school.”
For high school and high school students, Gurwitch recommends addressing the incident head-on by saying you want to talk to them about the school shooting and asking them what they know about it.
For younger kids, Gurwitch suggests starting the conversation by saying: “A very sad thing happened at school today. Very sad because someone was hurt and someone was killed, I just want you to know that when you listen at school By the time the kids talk about it, if you have any questions, you can talk to me.”