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Experts: Parents Can Reassure Children After Mass Shootings

Leon County Judge John Cooper on June 30, 2022, in a screen grab from The Florida Channel.
Julio Ochoa/WUSF
The Florida Channel
A panel of experts discusses what parents can do following mass shootings.

The high school shooting in Parkland is sparking a lot of questions from children who are wondering if something similar could happen at their school.

Experts say that parents can reassure children they are safe by talking to them about the tragedy.

What parents say to their kids after a mass shooting depends on how old they are. 

At a discussion on mental health following the recent shooting in South Florida, Kristen Hoffman, a psychologist at Johns Hopkins All Children's Hospital in St. Petersburg, said kids older than six will have tough questions.

“If we don't talk to our kids about these things happening in the world or difficult events, they may let their imaginations run wild and overestimate or over-dramatize what's happening,” Hoffman said.

She says parents should let children lead the conversation with their questions. They can start by asking kids what they know about the incident and what questions they have.

For teens, who use social media and surf the Internet, parents should use a dig a little deeper.

“Go with them to those pages and look at what they are looking at,” Hoffman said. “Find out where they are getting their information. And that gives you an opportunity to clarify things and ask about their thoughts and feelings.”

Julio Ochoa is editor of Health News Florida.