It is important to talk to your children about school violence. School shootings have sadly become a recurrent threat to students in the past few years. Avoiding this discussion or sheltering your children from the media may cause them to fear or misunderstand this topic. Active discussions can help them learn about school violence and prevention in order to help them feel reassured. It is important to address the topic of school shootings with your children so they know they are not alone in this experience.
Your child may already know about incidents like the shooting that recently occurred in Michigan. Find out what they know by asking questions about what they have heard and what they think about what happened. For example, you can ask, “have you heard about what happened in that school in Michigan?” And, “do you have any thoughts or questions about why it happened?” Help them identify their emotional reactions to violence at school by asking open-ended questions such as “how did you feel when you first heard about what happened in Michigan?”, or “let’s talk about how to cope with feelings of sadness or fear.”
It’s important for you as a parent to know the steps your children’s school takes to prevent or how they deal with school violence should it occur. Learning what the school does to practice safety in case of a dangerous event is a good place to start. You can try to access your children’s school’s safety practices through their website, or get in contact with the principal or school board to get a copy. It is important for children to know what the plans are and have their questions answered as well. Another idea is to talk to other parents or look up websites to learn how to cope with these ideas. You can also take a proactive approach and try to engage in community programs that focus on school safety.
Remind your child there is a team of people who are always working to keep everyone safe including law enforcement, teachers, and community leaders. It is important to discuss that there are ways your child can keep themself safe. They should know their school’s safety protocols and listen to the information provided during drills so they know what to do in an emergency. Remind your child the news can make it feel like school violence is an immediate threat and that it is important to take breaks from the news so they can mentally reset. You may also want to encourage them to ask for help, from you or another trusted adult, if they start to feel anxious about their safety in school.
At the end of this conversation, it is important to check in with your child. How are they feeling about the conversation? Do they have any questions? It is normal for them to feel anxiety or fear about this topic. Overall, you should let your child guide this conversation, so they do not feel overwhelmed or stressed. This conversation may be difficult for you and/or your child, but it can be an important step in keeping your child safe. Here are some resources to help you learn more about this topic:
By:// Isabella Savage