Posted On: November 15, 2022

How to Talk About School Shootings to Children

According to the National Center for Education Statistics, there were 93 shootings in the 2020 to 2021 school year. This massive number of school shootings is a high we have not seen in America for over 20 years.

To make matters even worse, in 2022, so far, there have been 35 school shootings. This is more than any other year since school shootings started being tracked.

We must talk to children about these events so they understand what is happening in the world and know how they can best act in a violent event.

This article will discuss ways to talk to your child about school shootings. We want to help your child feel safe in their school and feel like they can speak if they feel fearful for any reason.

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Why to Talk About School Shootings With Your Child

Your school-age child understands that there have been instances of school shootings. Many children going to school may feel fearful that their lives may be in danger. They may have questions about how they can feel safe during a violent event.

It is your job as a guardian to help guide them to feel safe and secure within their school. Children as young as five years old participate in school active shooter drills and are thoroughly aware that a school shooting could happen.

This is an emotional and difficult thing for children to process. You can guide them to process this difficult information so they feel safe speaking to you. It is essential to educate yourself before starting the conversation with your child. If you do not have an answer for your child when they ask a question, it is okay to let them know that you will do some research and let them know when you have a better understanding.

Begin the conversation

it may be difficult for your child to know how to bring up the topic of school shootings. So if you bring up the subject yourself, they may feel safer continuing the discussion. It may never seem like the right time to discuss such a complex topic but not talking to your children about school shootings can lead to feelings of worry and confusion. Ask your child one of the following questions to begin the discussion:

  • How did you feel about the school shooting drill today?
  • Have your teachers spoken to you about the possibility of school shootings?
  • Do you feel safe at school?
  • Do you know what to do if a school shooter is on your campus?

You can also talk to your child about a particular school shooting event. Your job is to begin the conversation and let your child continue it. Even if they are not talkative at first, they may not know how to put their feelings into words yet. Be patient and maybe wait a few days and ask again.

Emphasize the importance of safety

When your child is ready to start talking about school shootings, you can ask them what they know about them. It is vital to allow them to express their concerns and ask questions. It is essential to be honest but also to reassure your child. You can address any inaccurate fears that they may hold.

Another way to help your child feel safe is to enroll them in an active shooter safety training course for children. The free course from 360training is an excellent place for children to learn the correct steps to take in the instance of an active shooter.

Emphasize safety without going into graphic detail. You can help your child develop a plan to protect them in all types of emergencies.

Let your child know that it is normal to feel scared.

Fear of potential danger is natural. There is nothing wrong with feeling anxious about possible situations. But instead of letting that feeling rule their lives, let them know that the best thing they can do is to have a plan and learn how to keep themselves safe.

Leaders keep you safe

Remind your child that leaders, like teachers, first responders, security, and law enforcement, work hard every day to ensure their safety and well-being. The emergency drills practiced in a classroom are a way for everyone to understand how to act in an emergency.

If your child knows that adults are actively keeping them safe, they will have the confidence to make safe decisions and an actual emergency they have practiced.

Listen

Though this article is about talking to your child, the most important thing you can do to help your child process school shootings that happen in the world is to listen to them. Let your child know that they are in a safe place to speak freely and express themselves to the best of their abilities.

You are the most critical source of help for your children. But you cannot help them if you do not listen to their concerns. Make sure you are calm and understanding while listening to your child. Some children and adolescents may not be capable of describing their fears. If your child is acting out, help them process why they feel upset and distressed instead of disciplining them.

Listening can open the door to meaningful discussions.

How to Stay Safe During an Active Shooter Event

For more information about preparing for an active shooter incident, take one of our active shooter preparedness training courses

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