On March 27th, a shooter entered The Covenant School, a private Catholic school in Nashville, Tennessee. The shooter killed three adults and three 9-year-old students before they were themselves killed by responding police.
This event was only the latest in a continually growing list of mass shooting incidents to take place at American schools. From Sandy Hook Elementary School in 2012, Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in 2018, or the latest tragedy in Nashville, this a growing problem that is impossible to ignore. These events impact not only these local communities, but populations around the country as well. That’s why it’s essential to talk with your children about their feelings after a tragic event like this happens. Even if they’re too young to understand all the details, talking about it will help them cope with their emotions and get through this difficult time as best they can.
Mass Shootings Is A Serious Threat to American Youth
School shootings are a real risk for American students. Unfortunately, due to the frequency with which we see these tragic events occur, it can be easy to forget that this is a uniquely American problem.
They have been since Columbine in 1999 and continue to happen today. More than 348,000 students in America have experienced gun violence at school since Columbine. Studies show that between January 2009 and May 2018, there were 288 school shootings in the United States. No other country had more than eight incidents in that same span.
Despite the acknowledgement from the government that this is a significant concern, things are getting worse, not better. The BBC reports that mass shooting incidents in the United States are increasing. The Nashville shooting marked the 131st mass shooting incident this year alone.
How Mass Shootings Impact Adolescent Mental Health
As a parent, knowing how your child is handling the news is important.
If your child has had any exposure to gun violence, it may be helpful for you to talk about the event with them in a supportive way. If they don’t want to talk about it or are having trouble coping, then let them know that you’re there for them if and when they feel ready.
It’s also wise for parents not only to keep up with current events but also to prepare themselves by understanding how these events affect adolescent mental health so that they can help their children through difficult times while still supporting them at home.
Parents should be aware of how their children are reacting to the news.
If you are a parent, there are several things you can do to help your child cope with school shootings and other traumatic events:
If you’re a parent of a child in school, it can be important to bring these situations up with them. Many parents may avoid these topics, either because they do not want to scare their child or feel too emotional to broach the subject, but having a dialogue with your child can help alleviate fears and anxiety they may be feeling.
- Talk to your kids about what happened in the aftermath of the shooting, and listen to their feelings. Let them know that it’s okay for them to be sad or scared–and remind them that they don’t have to hide their emotions from adults at home or school if they’re struggling.
- Give them a safe space where they can talk about what happened without judgment or shame; this could mean setting aside time every day for this purpose or creating an informal support group with other parents whose children were affected by the event.
- Answer any questions your child may have, being open, honest, and understanding.
- Offer resources like hotlines and counseling centers where they can seek help if necessary.
Checking In With Your Kids After Violence
If you have a child in school, it’s important to check in with them and let them tell you how they’re feeling after an event like this.
Kids may feel scared, confused, or sad. They may also be worried about their own safety and not know who they can talk to about their feelings.
The most important thing you can do is be there for your kids and let them know that they’re safe. If they’re having trouble coping with what happened, getting professional help is important. If there’s ever a shooting at your child’s school, make sure they know what to do and where to go so that they don’t get caught up in the chaos of the moment.CTRLCare Behavioral Health is a center offering mental health treatment for adolescents in New Jersey. Contact us today to learn more about how we can help your children manage their mental health.