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updated: 12/18/2012 11:14 AM

DCHD offers tips to parents on how to talk to their kids about recent violence

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David Hass

DUPAGE COUNTY--The tragic events at the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut last Friday have caused many people, including children, to experience strong emotions and reactions, such as confusion, fright, anger, anxiety, worry, grief and a sense of helplessness.

Disasters such as this are challenging as exposure to the 24-hour news cycle can upset, confuse and cause stress in children, adolescents and adults. In the wake of this tragedy, many parents and others are seeking guidance and resources to help children cope and understand this disaster.

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The DuPage County Health Department offers the following tips to parents from the National Child Traumatic Stress Network to help their children cope:

• Limit your children's exposure to media coverage.

• Watch and discuss with children -- discuss the news stories, asking your child what they think or how they feel about what they saw, read or heard and correct any misunderstandings or confusion. Ask older children and teens what they have seen on the Internet or what they have heard through social media technologies (texting, Facebook, Twitter, etc.) in order to get a better sense of their thoughts, fears, concerns, and points-of-view.

• Seize opportunities for communication -- be available to talk about your children's feelings, thoughts and concerns and reassure them of their safety and of plans to keep them safe.

• Be careful of what you and other adults say about the recent tragedy or the media coverage in front of your children; children often listen when adults are unaware and may misunderstand what they hear.

• Let your children know about successful community efforts such as reports of individuals helping those in need.

• Educate yourself -- learn about children's reactions to traumatic events.

Reinforcing safety is important. Children need to hear from their parents and caregivers that they will do everything possible to keep them safe.

For more information and helpful resources, please visit our website: www.dupagehealth.org.

The DuPage County Health Department offers a wide range of Behavioral Health Services, including individual and family counseling, crisis services including crisis debriefing and psychiatric care. To access Behavioral Health Services for children, adolescents and adults, please call (630) 682-7400. For 24-hour crisis services, please call (630) 627-1700.

For more information on the DuPage County Health Department, follow us on Twitter @DuPageHD or become a fan on Facebook.

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