How the Sandy Hook tragedy is impacting parents 10 years later

Therapist gives advice on how parents can work through anxiety of sending kids to school

ROANOKE, Va. – Wednesday marks 10 years since the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting. A gunman killed 20 children and six adults in Newtown, Connecticut on that devastating day. The incident sent shockwaves of grief and fear across the country.

Now, a decade later, for some those feeling are still being felt.

“The fears and the concerns for parents in this area, in Roanoke and Lynchburg, about sending their kids to school, are the same as parents in California, Colorado, wherever. These are very normal feelings,” said Leanne Dudley, a clinical therapist at Thriveworks.

School shootings like the one at Sandy Hook, and more recently Uvalde, can make parents uneasy about sending their child or children to school. Parents grappling with anxiety about these things are encouraged to lean on fellow parents for support.

“Talk to one another, start a group chat, go for lunch, have coffee, do something but having an opportunity to externalize those fears and concerns is extremely valuable because it lets you know you’re not alone,” said Dudley.

Children may share the same worries. Dudley said if you want to have a conversation with them about tough topics like school shootings or their safety, to do so casually, like while making dinner.

“A lot of times just in play or everyday conversation, bringing in these different topics is really useful. Sitting a child down and wanting to have this serious conversation can be a little unnerving,” she added.

Dudley said other ways to work through these difficult feelings is through support groups or therapy and that communication is key.


About the Author

Alyssa Rae grew up in Roanoke and graduated from Virginia Tech. An avid sports fan, she spent her first 8 years in TV as a sports anchor and reporter.

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