Counselors discuss how parents can talk to children about school shootings

JACKSON, Tenn. — With the threat of gun violence at schools, parents may be wondering what’s the best way to talk to their kids about the ongoing issue.

Once a rare occurrence, school shootings such as the one Wednesday in south Florida are becoming a more frequent and tragic reality.

“There’s been so many, and it’s just February. It’s very scary,” Jackson-Madison County School crisis counselor Kia Richard said.

As the number of school shootings continues to rise, parents are left grappling with how to explain the horrific acts to their children.

“Just telling them that it’s OK for them to be scared. It’s OK for them to ask questions,” said Richard, a mother herself.

Richard says it’s important to remind students of school security factors already in place.

Madison County Sheriff John Mehr says each school in the district has a student resource officer on campus.

“Teachers need to communicate with us. Parents need to communicate with the schools, and even the SROs if needed,” Mehr said.

When it comes to media exposure, University School of Jackson guidance counselor Debbie Antone says less is more.

“Media is very intense these days, and I think it can oftentimes cause a lot more insecurity,” Antone said.

Antone says when your child asks questions, keep your own emotions in check.

“I think their reactions from the adults have a lot to do with how they are going to react with a situation,” she said.

Both counselors agree that letting children know they’re safe is important.

“We don’t want it to turn into that they’re so preoccupied with being scared that they are not learning,” Richard said.

School counselors recommend parents reach out to them or a local psychologist for further help.

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