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Children's mental health in the wake of school shooting
Delaware State News - 3/13/2018
Our society and safety as a nation was once again shaken to its core with another school shooting. Our thoughts and support go out to all those in Florida, as well as all those in communities who have had similar experiences, and those in school settings. The trauma and re-traumatization of these tragedies impacts us all.
As we search for ways to move forward and to find common ground, we know that there is an immediate need to understand and respond to the impact of school violence. Whether the school shooting may heighten anxiety or fear, or cause our children to experience these feelings for the first time, it's important for us to know the ways in which we can be supportive and help them navigate and emerge stronger from this tragedy.
Our children are filled with questions such as, "Why did this happen? Could it happen to me? Is it safe for me to go to school?" Fortunately, there are ways we can respond to these questions and begin conversations with our children and adolescents.
1. Start a conversation about the event. Not talking about it can make the event even more threatening in your child's mind.
2. Ask what your child/teen has already heard about the event. Listen carefully, particularly for any misinformation, misconceptions, and underlying fears or concerns.
3. Gently correct any misconceptions or misinformation in simple, clear, age-appropriate language.
4. Encourage your child to ask questions and answer them directly.
The strategies above, from the National Child Traumatic Stress Network's are resources for parents, caregivers, and others to help guide, support and help our children build resiliency.
It's also important to reach out to health care providers - including mental health professionals - for extra support and help when needed.
We stand together, we stand to support,
Gunit Kahlon, M.D. Chief of Psychiatry Delaware Guidance Services for Children and Youth Inc.