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How to talk to kids about school shootings

Published: Dec. 5, 2021 at 1:02 AM EST
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TOLEDO, Ohio (WTVG) - Experts say copycat threats are continuing part of the continuing fallout from Tuesday’s school shooting at Oxford High School in Michigan.

As shootings, and their aftermath, become increasingly common, experts are trying to learn how to reduce the violence. A local trauma therapist says that seeing a school shooting so close to home can be hard for parents to handle, but there are strategies to talk about, and maybe even prevent, the violence.

“Parents aren’t perfect, it’s probably one of the hardest jobs there is, but there’s a way to guide your kids,” Sara Elias, a trauma therapist at The Willow Center, said.

Elias said that copycat threats are common after shootings, but they can be reduced. It’s important to minimize attention given to shooters, so troubled kids won’t desire the notoriety.

“It might be the way to get the attention they’ve been looking for, well, everyone will pay attention then,” says Elias.

She also says there are warning signs to look for to know if your child needs help. Things like making overt threats, isolation or sadness, a lack of interest in activities your child would normally enjoy, angry outbursts or irritability, or increased rule-breaking.

But Elias also says there’s also a way to handle troubling behavior. She says to take your child seriously.

“You can’t be too dramatic about it,” she says.

Also, check your child’s social media periodically, and ask them if they need someone to talk to. Don’t be offended if you’re not the one they want to confide in. The most important thing is to make sure your child feels heard.

“It’s created by isolation, but it’s fixed by connection,” says Elias.

For more information on preventing school shootings, visit Sandy Hook Promise.

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