Experts say they could worry that the shooter will come after them.
Baltimore, Md (KM). While many adults are trying to make sense of the largest mass shooting in American history which occurred on Sunday in Las Vegas, they should forget about their children.
Tanya Sharpe, an Associate Professor at the University of Maryland School of Social Work, says some children may ask questions about why this deadly shooting, which killed 59 people, happened. She says they also might be fearful the shooter could come after them, or their brothers and sisters, or them mother and father. These kids need to be told that their parents will do all they can to keep them safe. “It may be ‘sweetheart it’s unfortunate that bad happen to very, very good people. And we’re going to do our best to keep you safe, your siblings safe,'” says Sharpe.
In addition, says Sharpe, remind your small children to stay safe in school and anywhere they attend. She says make sure your kids know to go to a trusted adult if they see something happening, or something doesn’t look right. “And sort of reiterating to them about things they may do, drills that they may do on school grounds.; when they’re in the school or in the school classroom that they are very familiar with,” says Sharpe.
Older children, such as adolescents, may be shocked and saddened over this mass shooting, and may wonder if they can attend a concert or other event they’ve looked forward to. Sharpe says let them go, but remind them to stay safe. “Having your cell phone; being in constant communication; let me know when you leave, when you get to that safe place; familiarizing yourself with your surroundings; where are the exit signs,” she says.
This mass shooting has been reported extensively on radio and television. But Sharpe says you don’t have to prohibit your children from watching this news story because you feel it may upset them.. She says it’s best to have conversations with your kids about what happened, and tell them this is an unfortunate part of life. “Incidents like this and so many others that have happened before remind us that no one is immune from violence,” she said.
Also, parents need to watch for changes in behavior among their children following incidents like this. “The child being withdrawn or aloof, or all of sudden socially isolated from the family or friends; not wanting to go to after school programs; uncontrollable bursts of anger; a dramatic change for the older ones in academic achievement. Then you have to signal to parents to know that something’s happening. There’s some reaction taking place to what’s going on,” says Sharpe.
She says that’s time for parents to have a conversation with their children, and perhaps contact their health care provider or a psychiatrist or a social worker.
By Kevin McManus