Educate when talking to children about tragic events
Tragic events, like the recent Colorado movie theater shooting, can leave children scared and confused. Children will look to the adults in their lives for guidance and comfort. Children need to be reminded that most people are good and would never want to hurt them, but there are some who do want to hurt others. It is important to remember to educate children and not scare them when talking about tragic events. Some fear it is all right because a small amount of fear will remind children to be cautious without being paranoid.
Parents should make time to talk to their children about an event and not allow their children to rely on the news media as their only source of information. Parents should provide the facts of the event and not allow their children to be exposed to news stories that elaborate on the frightening experiences of victim survivors and the opinions of so called “experts” who speculate and embellish on the facts. Parents should also teach their kids how to respond if they are ever present during a tragic event.
The next time you take your family to dinner at a restaurant, have your kids point out all the exits and the quickest way to get to each of those exits. Then practice a “when-then” situation instead of a “what-if” situation. Ask your child what he or she would do when an emergency happens and not what if an emergency happens. Emphasize that escape is always the best option during any emergency and they should leave the area as quickly as possible whenever it is safe to do so. If escaping safely is not possible, they should consider barricading themselves in a room away from the situation. They should lock the door and pile furniture and other items against the door to make it more difficult for anyone to get the door open. As a last resort, if face to face with someone who wants to hurt them, they should try to incapacitate the person by aggressively throwing items directly at the person or attacking the person and then escaping when safe.
Let your children know it is natural and OK to feel scared and upset during and after an event. Ensure them there are people trained to handle emergency situations who are working to prevent further tragedies from occurring. Tell them they, too, can help prevent further tragedies by practicing how to respond during an event and let’s keep our kids safe.
Keeping Our Kids Safe is brought to you by the Delaware Police Department and School Resource Officer Rod Glazer.