Experts Share How to Speak to Children In the Wake of Tragedy

Seventeen people were killed in the shooting in Parkland, Florida.

DULUTH, Minn. – The safety and well being of all students is something area school districts take seriously.

Even though the mass shooting in Florida happened far away, students in the Northland can still have a hard time coping.

With their sense of security when events like this occur.

As difficult as this topic may be experts say it’s an important conversation to have.

Hermantown Community Schools started the day addressing the shooting with a staff email.

The next day after such a tragic event experts know it’s common for students to go through a wide range of emotions of concern and fear.

In times like this Hermantown school leaders focus more on building relationships with students and staff so they can better communicate with one another.

“The biggest thing there is to be age appropriate, first of all. So you’re going to talk in a different manner to an elementary school student compared to a high school student,” said Hermantown High School Principal John Muenich. “The older the student is be more honest, upfront, talk about strategies. we’ve gone through and presented strategies as far as how to handle a crisis situation.”

Some students are affected more than others if they have a connection to anyone at a school or to a region where events such as a shooting happen.

Medical experts have found students can start to develop anxiety just from being at school.

Parents and adults can help reassure children they are protected.

“Just ask them would you like to talk about this? And do more open ended questions like, what’s and how’s,” said Essentia Health Psychologist Dr. Nicole Fleming. “What is it that you’ve heard and try to talk to them in a calm manner.”

The american psychological association says parents should monitor a child’s exposure to news coverage and watch for signs that a child needs help when events like a school shooting are getting lots of attention.

“You can even approach it by starting with the specific shooting that happened yesterday, there’s been a sad thing that’s happened. The reason why it’s sad is because there’s been people that have been hurt and killed,” said Fleming. “Tell me what you’ve heard, and so that’s a way to open the conversation with children.”

Counselors are available at hermantown community schools for students to drop in anytime they like.

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