Linda Lewis Griffith

Talking to kids about violence

We’re all horrified by Friday’s senseless school shootings. It’s nearly impossible to make sense of the random destruction, of the devastation of so many young lives.

Children are particularly vulnerable to these events, especially when they identify with the ages and life stages of the victims. 

Parents are the first responders in helping youngsters cope with and recover from the news of violence. The National Association of School Psychologists offers these suggestions:

Reassure children that they are safe.

Keep explanations developmentally appropriate.

Upper elementary and early middle school children will ask more questions about their own safety and what’s being done to protect them. They may need assistance separating reality from rumor or fantasy. Discuss efforts of school and community leaders to provide for their safety when they’re at school. 

Upper middle school and high school students will have strong and varying opinions about the causes of violence in schools and society. They’re likely to make suggestions about how to make school safer and how to prevent tragedies from happening in the future. 

Review safety procedures.

Observe your child’s emotional state.

Limit the amount of exposure to the event.

Maintain a normal routine.