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Counselors offer tips on how to talk to children about mass shootings

Parents are asked to pay extra attention to their kids after the school shooting in Texas.
Published: May. 24, 2022 at 10:34 PM EDT
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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) - The state of Tennessee has poured millions of dollars into school districts to help prevent school shootings. The money is used for training, resources and security.

In 2018, former Gov. Bill Haslam helped do a statewide study of all of the school districts to determine what more needed to be done to keep schools safe after the Stoneman Douglas shooting that killed 17 people.

The study found security measures were average to above average while emergency operation plans were below average. To help with this, the Tennessee General Assembly continues to allocate $10 million a year for school districts across the state to spend on upgrading security.

East Tennessee counselors said there are tips families should use when discussing these shootings with children. Counseling pastor with Grace Baptist Church Tom Hardin said he found out about Tuesday’s shooting from a phone call.

“I thought to myself these parents had no idea when they woke up this morning that their worlds were going to be altered so tragically,” Hardin said.

Meredith Wood, who is also a counselor in East Tennessee, said keeping open communications with children is crucial.

“It’s all about power. When we hear about mass shootings and things that couldn’t be stopped, we feel very powerless,” Wood said.

Hardin said a caring and reassuring parent is necessary for these children so they have someone reliable to talk about these shootings. He also said children may become extra clingy, experience night terrors, or even regress mentally after tragic incidents.

“We need to be there and be very diligent in watching the children and how they behave and help them when they need it.”

Wood wants children to be encouraged when it comes to reaching out for help or helping a friend.

“We are at an all time high in our ability to communicate instantly and learn about global events,” Wood said.

Other states like California have gone a step further to prevent school shootings by trying to address bullying and harrassment.

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