DETROIT (WWJ) – In the wake of a deadly mass shooting at a Connecticut elementary school, parents around the country are wondering what to tell their children in the aftermath.
Speaking live Friday on WWJ Newsradio 950, DMC psychiatrist Dr. Gerald Schiener said you will want to remain calm and not overwhelm them.
“The first thing we’re going to have to remember is that kids can be very resilient and then can recover from these kinds of experiences,” Schiener said. “So, when our children come home and they hear about it, we have to reassure them that they’re OK, that this didn’t happen here, that this doesn’t happen often, that this is rare and that it doesn’t mean that they’re at any risk.”
Schiener said you’ll really want to watch your kids closely because they can undergo a series of mood-swings in the aftermath.”For the first few days kids might be more clingy, they might be a little bit more grouchy, they might be a little bit more rowdy or they might be withdrawn — so we have to make sure that we pay attention to them as well,” he said.
Schiener said the key is not to avoid the topic, but to encourage their questions and openly address them in a loving manner. “Let them talk to us about what they’re afraid of and ask them questions about, ‘What do you think of this? What did other kids say? … What do you think would make someone do this? And then listen to what they tell you and let them express themselves a bit.”
Schiener said that violent tragedies such as this one bring to mind that mental health services are not available to the people who need them the most.
“The public mental health system has been dismantled. We need more public clinics; we need more money available to support mental health treatment,” said Schiener. “Because often you talk to people about these perpetrators and everyone knows that they were disturbed and everyone knows that something as wrong and they were frustrated but nobody knew how to help them.”
CBS News is reporting 26 people were killed including 20 children after a gunman opened fire in at the Sandy Hook Elementary School. The shooter was also killed and police believe he had an accomplice.