Parents Explain School Shootings To Kids In A Conversation That's Becoming Ever More Important

Parents should educate themselves and prepare for this conversation before they have it with their kids.

Following the school shooting in Parkland, Fla. which claimed the lives of 17 at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, more and more parents are realizing they need to talk to their kids about mass shootings. It's not an easy conversation to have, but it's become an increasingly important one. 

Some kids may be learning how to react if an armed intruder enters their school from "lockdown" or "active-shooter" drills. A report published in 2016 found that nearly two-thirds of U.S. schools hold some form of these drills. Whether or not a child is having these drills at school, it's important parents give kids the information they need, opportunities to ask questions, and help processing information about these events.

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As part of Cut Video's series Parents Explain, parents sat down to have this conversation with their kids on camera. Many of them started by asking what they know about mass shootings and, for those who didn't know much, explaining what they are. Some of the kids explained what they've learned in lockdown drills while others took advice from their parents. 

As they continued to talk about mass shootings, both the parents and the kids asked each other a lot of questions and shared their opinions on safety. "If you're ever feeling sad about these shootings and stuff like that, we can talk about it," one mom said to her son. "It's something that we should talk about more than once, right?"

Right.

The video is reminder that parents should educate themselves and prepare for this conversation before they have it with their kids. In light of the high profile acts of violence that have been increasingly common, the National Association of School Psychologists (NASP) has put together a list of guidelines on how to talk to kids about mass shootings. Not all of the parents in the video above followed these guidelines when talking to their kids, but it's so important to look to experts when touching on this difficult topic.  

First and foremost, the NASP advises parents to reassure their children they're safe. "Emphasize that schools are very safe. Validate their feelings. Explain that all feelings are OK when a tragedy occurs. Let children talk about their feelings, help put them into perspective, and assist them in expressing these feelings appropriately," the National Association of School Psychologists (NASP) advises. 

NASP also recommends making sure your explanations are appropriate for their age, letting their questions guide how much information you give them, and paying close attention to your child's emotional state. 

In addition, parents should review procedures and safeguards both at school and at home. "Help children identify at least one adult at school and in the community to whom they go if they feel threatened or at risk," NASP. 

The organization also has a list of talking points for parents who may need some more guidance which includes statements that explain the difference between the possibility something could happen and the probability it will happen to their school community as well as encouragement to tell a trusted adult if they know any information may prevent harm to others. 

For more information on how to talk to kids about violence, visit the NASP website

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