How to talk to your kids about school shootings

Moms Demand Action of Lynchburg hosted a learning seminar Monday night

By Shayne Dwyer - Reporter

LYNCHBURG, Va. - We may just be starting summer vacation, but school safety is just as important as ever to parents in Southwest Virginia. Monday night families in Lynchburg learned how to turn those thoughts into action.

As school violence continues to make headlines, children face a new reality their parents didn't, and adults are becoming more aware of that fact.

"We're not a huge group, Moms Demand Action here in Lynchburg is a small group but we're very strong and we're very passionate about the safety of our children," Moms Demand Action event lead Kate Smith said.

Mom and Dad or trusted adult generally become the go-to for kids' questions, but that doesn't mean adults always know how to respond.

"Parents are often questioning how to best approach it with their children, how to be sure that they're giving honest answers but also reassuring answers so children feel saf as they go to school," child psychologist Dr. Rene Hackney said.

Hackney traveled from northern Virginia to speak at the event. She said these are the tips you should follow. The best approach is to be calm when talking with your children of any age, as they feed off your emotions.

For pre-schoolers, assume they don't know and follow the less is more method. Focus on safety and security as those students may be doing safety drills at school. Your elementary school kids may or may not know. Find out what they know and try to clear up any misunderstandings. Let their questions be your guide, answering only what is asked.

By middle and high school, assume your kids know, and have seen and heard the same things you have. Adults should start the conversation, and don't be surprised if politics or worldviews come up  as kids this age can express themselves with ideas, concerns and possible solutions.

"The idea is that we want children to feel safe at school and for many children, hearing about school shootings even occasionally it's undermining their sense of security and their sense of safety," Hackney said.

Moms Demand Action wants the topic of safety to be as comfortable as the conversation of what's for dinner. They also want help preventing tragedies by keeping guns locked up.

"We're not against guns once again, we do want people to store their guns, unloaded and locked with ammunition away to keep our kids safe," Smith said.

 

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