WAMU 88.5 : News

Counselors Talk With Students After Newtown Shooting

As funeral services begin this week for the 20 children and 6 adults killed in a Newtown, Conn. elementary school, local counselors are suggesting ways to avoid the ill effects of such devastating news.

The shooting, which left 20 children and 8 adults dead including the shooter, has left its mark on the minds of many across the country, says D.C.-based psychiatric counselor Kathy Richardson. And many children may be fearful about returning to the classroom, she adds.

Although a child might be anxious about returning to school, it's important that they go back, Richardson says. 

"It's important not to let them stay home, and to do what you can do to get them there back in the classroom and to demonstrate to them that school is a safe place," she says. Richardson also advises parents to inform teachers of a child's anxiety so he or she can receive extra support.

"The entire society grieves and is traumatized by such a an event. How could our society not protect our children?" she says.

Teachers and school administrators were bracing themselves for questions from children who may not have fully processed what happened last Friday in a school not much different from theirs. One way to avoid children — or their parents — being traumatized is to turn off the TV, Richardson says. 

"Because the images are not ones that young children should be exposed to," she says. 

Although children, especially younger ones, are sometimes subjected to more information than necessary, they may not always react as expected, she adds. 

"They may hear it, but they're not hearing it the way that we're hearing it," she says. "So, if your child does not ask about it, don't go out of your way to have a big discussion with them about it." 

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