Guest Column

The tragedy of the Florida school shooting is devastating leaving 17 killed and 15 injured. Our children can easily identify with what occurred yesterday. It will be the topic of conversation today in schools everywhere. School administrators are doing all they can to provide support and guidance. The shootings affect children, teachers, and school personnel. The school shooting can have an emotional, psychological and physical effect on us, our families and our children.

It is important to share the facts when asked what occurred and to limit vivid upsetting media to the younger child. Teens and older kids are able to view much of the story on the internet, cell phones, etc. Our children are able to relate and personalize the incident with “what if”? Talking this through with them is essential and we want to validate their feelings, not dismiss them.  

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Many safety questions will arise. Reassuring your children that they are safe and that everyone around them whose job is to keep them safe is doing just that is an important discussion. Keep in mind giving age appropriate information. A 3-year old, 7-year-old or even a 10-year-old doesn’t really need to know a lot of the details. If parents turn off the news on the attack, kids can still follow social media. Pre-adolescents and adolescents are at a very vulnerable age developmentally so it is so important to talk to them about what they already know and how they feel. Talk with your children about how there are things in this world that we cannot predict, bad things do happen. We live in a world where people can get hurt. You can get hurt getting out of bed in the morning.

It’s important for parents to model good coping skills. They will look to you to see how you deal with the uncertainty of life. Let them know that you do everything you can to keep them safe and that authorities are doing the same.

Help your child figure out some ways to take action to fight violence in our world. Perhaps getting involved in anti-bullying programs, find out whether their school has a group of volunteer students to help out in emergency situations, inform and educate your child on how to report suspicious activities or situations. Perhaps discussing safety measures in school can provide some comfort. We all feel better when we are able to take a tragic event such as this and do something positive to make a change.

Maria Sikoutris Di Iorio, MA, EdS, MFT, LPC, is Clinical Director at the Hellenic Therapy Center, 567 Park Avenue, Scotch Plains, NJ. The practice features a team of licensed professionals available day, evening and weekend hours for counseling. Visit www.hellenictherapy.com or call 908-322-0112.

Editor's Note: Hellenic Therapy Center is an advertiser of TAPinto.