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Therapist explains best ways for parents to talk with children about mass shootings

Trying to make sense out of senseless violence like mass shootings can be tough for anyone to explain. Talking to children about it can be even more difficult.
Published: May. 16, 2022 at 4:55 PM EDT
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Mich. (WNEM) - Trying to make sense out of senseless violence like mass shootings can be tough for anyone to explain. Talking to children about it can be even more difficult.

As mass shootings continue in the United States, parents continue to be faced with questions from their kids.

Once again, parents have to navigate the difficult conversations after a gunman was accused of opening fire in a Buffalo grocery store.

“The first thing is parents want to create a space, a safe space for their children and be able to explore their thoughts and feelings about the incident,” said Shuntai Walker, clinical director of Re-Connect my Life Counseling.

Walker said having this conversation with children is important. She said parents should allow children to ask questions about what is going on and feel free to express how they are feeling.

“It’s a way for parents to help their children understand real world issues and that we’re not always going to get along as as a society, but we should be able to respect differences and not ignore those differences between others,” Walker said.

Walker said not having the conversation could perpetuate a cycle of hatred.

“We don’t want to create a society of hate. We want to be able to challenge that and let children know it’s okay to be angry or frustrated over what has happened. But we don’t have to be like that person. That love and kindness does exist and respect for others does exist in the world,” Walker said.

A conversation that is difficult, but necessary.

“It’s unfortunate this incident has happened, but it’s a great platform for parents to be able to talk and share with their children,” Walker said.

Walker also said parents should limit their kids’ exposure to certain types of media because it could perpetuate a feeling of anxiety, excessive worrying and fear.