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How to Talk to Children About School Shooting

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Q: What is the best thing parents can do now?

A:  The most important thing parents can do is talk to their children, Garrard says. "Sit down with your child. Tell them a really bad thing has happened. Maybe they have already heard it on the news. Tell them, 'We need to talk about this.'"

See how they feel about it, Garrard says. You want them to share their feelings.

"Technology makes things a lot more complex," Brymer says. "They are getting information through Twitter feeds and Facebook. It's harder to keep up with what your kids are hearing. When we tweet, we hear something from someone and then you re-tweet. You can't fact-check when you tweet or post something on Facebook."

Clarify for them whether there are any misconceptions about what is read online, Brymer says.

Q: What strategies should parents avoid?

A: Try not to dismiss children's feelings, Garrard says. "Saying to kids, 'It will be OK, forget about it' -- I think parents say that a lot and think it will be helpful. They want the kids to forget and move on. It is not helpful because it does not validate a child's feelings."

"It goes back to letting children express their feeling whatever way they want -- drawing, crying, in whatever way. Expressing how they feel is extremely important."

Q: How to handle the return to school?

A: "Safety concerns are common right now, whether you are in the impacted area or around the country," Brymer says. "It's important to know about safety issues. Schools have emergency plans. Do you, as a parent, know what those are, or what the evacuation sites might be?''

Checking the school web site is wise, she says. "They are going to update information [after an emergency]."

"Have your own family emergency plan in order to communicate," Brymer says. "We know in times of crisis texting or updating your status on Facebook is sometimes more reliable than calling on the phone."

If your child is anxious about returning to school, talk through what should be done in an emergency, Brymer says. Tell them: If you are in a room and the danger is outside the door, lock the door. If there is a way to exit the danger area, exit.

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