DENVER (KDVR) – Tragedy struck the Uvalde community, roughly 90-miles west of San Antonio, Tuesday, leaving 19 students and two teachers dead. Now, like the many mass shootings before this one, the process of trying to understand how something like this could happen begins again.
Active shooter incidents rose more than 50 percent over 2021, according to new data released by the FBI. Last year’s incident with the highest number of casualties was at Table Mesa King Soopers in Boulder, Colorado, which left 10 people dead.
Unfortunately, Colorado is all too familiar with these types of incidents, with shootings unfolding at Columbine High School, the STEM school in Highlands Ranch, and the Aurora Theater just to name a few locations that have been forever marred by gun-fueled rampages.
Colorado experienced 13 active shooting incidents between 2013 and 2019, but talking about a subject like this is always difficult. That is especially true when the one you are having to discuss this subject with is your child.
How to delicately discuss mass shootings with children
Following the STEM shooting in 2019, Nexstar’s KDVR spoke with grief counselor Craig Knippenberg who had these suggestions on talking about school shootings with children.
- Make time to talk to your child about the event before they return to school, no matter their age.
- If you have younger children, give the very basic facts of the event.
- Do not go too far into detailing the event, or the intent of the event.
- Assure your child that schools are safe.
- Statistically, a school is the least likely place your child will be harmed.
- If your child is in middle school or high school:
- Offer them a time to talk about how they are feeling.
- If your child doesn’t offer much in the form of conversation, try to ask specific questions.
- Be gradual with your approach. Consider the analogy of fly fishing when speaking to your child.
- Try to drop the line with a small amount of “bait,” and repeat that over and over again. It may take a while to get them to open up.
Discussing other tough topics with children
Another subject that some parents have had to address with their children was brought up during an interview between KDVR’s Kirk Yunke and a grief counselor. Psychologist Micki Burns said that seeking bereavement assistance is always a good idea.
Additional steps are to gauge the situation yourself before discussing it with children. It is a good idea to go in with a moderate grasp of the situation to be able to answer any questions they have. Make it a teaching moment and be sure to stay calm and reassuring.
The Hill’s Rebecca Beitsch contributed to this report.