Troy Univ. professionals share tips for parents to discuss school shootings

The threat of mass shootings is scary for children and parents.
Published: Mar. 27, 2023 at 6:06 PM CDT|Updated: Mar. 27, 2023 at 10:21 PM CDT
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TROY, Ala. (WSFA) - Monday brought another deadly school shooting, this time at an elementary school in Tennessee. Three students, three adults and the gunman died.

Whether your child is in kindergarten or high school, staff at Troy University’s Social Work and Human Services Department believes it’s never too early, or too late, to talk to them about dangerous situations that may happen at their school, or those across the county.

“As adults it’s hard for us to process an event of this nature so imagine how difficult that is for a child,” said Rachel Walker, a licensed independent social worker and Troy professor.

“There are a lot of complex factors that contributes to gun violence in this country,” said Dr. Javier Boyas, director of Troy University’s School of Social Work and Human Services. “We know it’s a combination of many things such as mental health, access to fire arms, social isolation.”

Boyas and Walker have some tips you can use to talk with your child.

First, create a safe space within your home where your child feels comfortable to share information and express how they feel. Both Walker and Boyas advise to ask your child questions about their day or how certain situations make them feel.

If your child is too young to communicate, check for a change in behavior or routine.

“Particularly in an instance where a child experiences a traumatic experience,” said Boyas, “that may require an additional conversation that may require a parent to seek out professional help.”

If you don’t know who to turn to, Boyas says that parents can utilize their social workers or staff within their school, and if a child doesn’t feel safe to return to school, find a teacher or student that your child feels comfortable with and advise them to buddy up.

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