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Expert tips for parents about the Connecticut shooting

Connecticut State Police respond to the mass shooting

Connecticut State Police respond to the mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn. (Dec. 14, 2012) Credit: AP

The Connecticut school shooting may raise questions from children about what happened and whether such a tragedy can happen at their own school, as well as anxiety and sadness. Alyse Freda-Colon, a therapist in private practice in Huntington, offers the following advice on how to talk about the incident:

-Consider your child’s age. “If you think your child will see images on television, or read about it on the Internet, or hear about it from friends, it is best to talk with him about it,” says Freda-Colon. “Give him the opportunity to ask questions and express his fears or concerns.”

-Explain that school shootings are extremely rare. “And that’s why there is so much news coverage about this,” she says.

-Tell your child about the safety procedures in place at her school. “There are cameras inside and outside and the school staff knows everyone who enters the building,” she suggests explaining. “Reassure your child that she is safe.”

-Be understanding if your child seems anxious or unsettled about going to school or his safety in general. “If he needs it, walk him into the school building or let him sleep with the light on for a few days,” says Freda-Colon.

-Don’t create a problem where there isn’t one. “If your child appears unaffected by this event, just let her know that you are here for her if she wants to talk about it,” she says. “Don’t expect her to be traumatized.”

-Pay attention if your child appears to be having a difficult time coping with this event. If so, Freda-Colon recommends contacting the school psychologist or a school social worker for help.

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