Talking to your kids about school shootings

Updated 2/15/2018 4:39 PM
Editor's note: This story was originally published after the Las Vegas shooting.

In the wake of another mass shooting, the American Academy of Pediatrics is advising parents to shield children from graphic news coverage and offers tips for talking about disasters.

"We know graphic images and descriptions of violence can be upsetting to children," officials with the Elk Grove Village-based organization said. "Parents of young children are urged to avoid constant media coverage of the massacre."


The academy advises parents or caregivers to find out if their children know about the tragedy.

If that's the case, ask how much they know and whether they have any questions.

It's important to reassure children that parents and adults at their school "are going to do everything we can to make you safe," Dr. Robin Gurwitch, a psychologist and professor at Duke University Medical Center, told ABC News.

"Let them know that their school has plans in place to do everything to the best of their ability to make them safe," she said.

Other recommendations include:

• Be straightforward but avoid graphic details.

• Because of social media, children might already have been exposed to details about the shooting. Be prepared to initiate a conversation about what they've seen and answer questions.

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• A sample explanation could involve -- "Yes, in Florida, which is far away from here, there was a disaster and many people were hurt. The police are doing their jobs so they can try to make sure that it doesn't happen again."

• For older children, if you decide to let them watch the news, record it ahead of time. That allows parents to preview content. Watch together and allow for discussions.

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