Talking To Kids About School Violence

With the recent school shooting in Newtown, Connecticut both adults and children are aware and thinking about violence at schools. We have heard many parents say they don’t want to send their child to school and kids are worried about it too.

When significant acts of violence occur, it is important to be aware that some children may react strongly to these types of events. For parents, teachers and therapists it is important to be able to talk to children about their thoughts and feelings.

Here are some tips and guidelines to help be prepared to talk to children about school violence:

  • Be honest. Give children information they can understand in their own level. Help them to understand that while bad things happen to children sometimes, most children will not get harmed while at school.
  • Limit exposure your child has to violent video games, movie, TV, computer and books. Research shows the violent information has a cumulative effect in children. Also do not describe scenarios that may further frighten your child.
  • Monitor what information your child is getting or already has about the recent events. If they are hearing rumors or have wrong information, help them to understand the facts.
  • Be there for your child. Listen to what they have to say. Reassure your child is safe and that you and their school is working hard to keep them safe.
  • Work to manage your own fear and anxiety. Avoid letting your child take on your worries.
  • Give your child information on how to maintain safety through their actions. Provide them with information on how their school works to keep them safe.
  • Try to maintain normal activities and routines.

When difficult situations such as these occur, it can be hard to manage our own worries and those of our children. It is important to remember that school shootings and other acts of violence are very rare.

Depression versus Mourning.

What is the difference between depression and mourning?

Depression and mourning hold many similarities. Depression has been differentiated from mourning as depression has been viewed as a longer, ongoing sadness that impacts the person’s ability to function effectively in life. Everyone mourns differently; therefore someone in mourning could potentially meet the criteria for a Major Depressive Episode. With this in mind maybe we haven’t given enough thought to whether some people who are depressed are grieving some loss…

In a recent conversation with a friend she posed the question to me of whether maybe depression really is a type of mourning. Maybe people with depression are sometimes grieving the way they wish things were. We do know that depressed people tend to view the world in more negative and pessimistic ways; however, maybe it goes deeper.

Maybe the negativity we see in the thinking of depressed people is about their grief and loss of relationships, career dreams, family ideals or visions of success they saw for themselves.

By no means do I suggest everyone who is depressed is grieving or in mourning, however I do believe some people may be…

Ultimately, depression varies in how it develops and presents for each individual. I think the thoughts above remind us to treat each person as an individual. By understanding better those in mourning and in depression we can undoubtedly better help them to overcome their struggles.