What do you say to a child when they hear about a mass shooting?
“Someone made a bad decision and did something really bad, but we love you and we’re going to do everything we can to protect you,” is one thing National Children’s Advocacy Center Executive Director Chris Newlin says is one thing you can say to handle an undeniably difficult conversation with children.
People are dying in mass shootings across the country, and this week in Limestone County, a teenager is accused of killing his whole family, including three younger siblings.
Experts say these conversations are not something to avoid. Most often, the details shared will depend on the child’s age and ability to understand. The NCAC says one of the things parents need to consider is what they expose their children to.
“You don’t want to have necessarily the news on all the time and all of your conversations that kids can overhear on the telephone talking about what happened,” Newlin said.
Experts say overhearing details about tragic events but not having open conversations about it can make children think about it even more. So secrecy is not necessarily the way to go.
“If kids do bring up something or say something, you need to be prepared to respond to that,” Newlin said.
Parents and guardians should make a plan for approaching and handling the sensitive topic.
“Because you actually may have kids that really are scared and concerned,” Newlin said.
The NCAC recommends these resources if you’re looking for a way to start this conversation with your family.