School Shooting Aftermath: Tips to Help Kids Feel Safe and Process Their Fears

Our “safe” world was rocked in November with Oxford High School being so close by, and then all the different threats made to surrounding schools. And now we are being rocked again, with Texas, as old fears and wounds are re-open.

As moms we can’t sit with our kids in school, we can’t be on every bus ride, but we can do a few things to help our children get through their fears and feel safe as they go about their school day. 

Safe Tip #1: Share with them, don’t hide it- Your children are going to hear others talking about the shooting. Be it from a friend, adults talking, the radio, or the news. You can help them understand in the best way for your child. You can help your children know how to respond, or what they can control and what they cannot. 

Safe Tip #2: Limit the Exposure- Again don’t deny what happened or hide it, but don’t have every news outlet on in your home or car talking about it. Limit your conversations with others about the events and developments in front of your kids. If you have people who obsess over it, ask them to refrain when your kids are present. 

Safe Tip #3: Acknowledge what Protocols are in Place- Re-enforce what the schools are doing right now to keep your children safe. Remind them the doors are locked, they have had drills, and there is a safety officer nearby. Remind them what they can do or where they can go to hide. Ask them what they can do to feel safer. If they feel unsafe, ask why they feel that way. Talk to the staff and teachers at the school about any concerns you or your child may have. 

Safe Tip #4: Teach them if they SEE Something, SAY Something- You can never be too cautious. Help your kids know it is okay to speak up when they see strange behavior or they are worried about someone at school. Let them know you are there to help their friend or classmate. From odd Social Media posts to strange or a change in behavior, it is okay for them to come to you or another trusted adult.  

Safe Tip #5: Check-in with your Kid- The best way you can help is to check in on your kiddo for a few minutes every day. Take those few minutes to not be busy or distracted and ask them about their day, practice, friends, homework, or any other topic to get a conversation flowing. In time you may only need to walk by for them to bring something up.

Safe Tip #6: Learn and talk about PTSD- Help yourself and your kids to know what PTSD is and how they can respond to others suffering, or help themselves. Help them know they are not alone and who they can talk to about it. Reach out to a counselor or specialist for your child when needed. 

There are a few things we can also do to help ourselves and children process what is going on in the world around them and help them to feel like they are able to have an influence for the better:

  • safeShow them on a map where things take place. Talk about how close or far it is.
  • Have them make and write cards to send to those affected.
  • If they are having trouble vocalizing how they feel have them write it down or draw a picture.
  • Say a prayer or read a comforting scripture passage.
  • Donate Blood or help with a blood drive.
  • See what kind of programs your school, community center, or church has available.
  • Educate your children on gun safety.
  • Volunteer in your child’s school and get to know other parents and the kids with whom they interact.
  • Create emergency response bags for your local police and fire stations to give children – blanket, reading book, stuffy, journal, and writing/coloring materials.

We would love to hear how you help your child process this kind of traumatic event? What do you do to help your family feel like they are safe and/or making a difference to help?