How to Talk to Kids About Mass Shootings - NECN

How to Talk to Kids About Mass Shootings

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Preparing Children for Worst Case Scenarios

    NBC Boston health reporter Kristy Lee examines how parents should speak to their children about the recent spate of violence.

    (Published Monday, Nov. 6, 2017)

    Sunday's church shooting in Texas is particularly tragic, with so many children among the dead. It has many parents asking themselves if and how they should prepare their children for a similar attack.

    Dr. Ellen Braaten, a psychologist at Massachusetts General Hospital's Clay Center, said what you want them to know is that you're doing everything to keep them safe and the possibility of them not being safe is extremely low.

    She said the conversations about shootings and attacks have to be age appropriate.

    For ages up to 5, the risk of creating anxiety is too high. But for elementary school children and teenagers, it's OK to have a conversation.

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    Braaten said you can look online at what law enforcement has said that is important in these times. Keep it very concrete and very much in perspective that most likely you'll never need this.

    But she said there are limits to how much a parent can prepare a child. For example, advice on hiding or running away might not work in every scenario.

    "We can't get caught in 'This is exactly what you need to do next time' because next time might be different," Braaten said. "But I think heightened awareness, being able to be calm in a heightened emergency, is a skill set for all of us to know."

    A website created by the American Academy of Pediatrics breaks down how parents should talk to their children by age group: 

    healthychildren.org

    The Clay Center at MGH also has a website with advice: 

    mghclaycenter.org

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