Expert: Talking with children about gun violence can be 'empowering'

8 months 1 week 1 day ago Thursday, November 09 2017 Nov 9, 2017 Thursday, November 09, 2017 3:56:00 PM CST November 09, 2017 in Top Stories
By: Jessica Porter, KOMU 8 Reporter
loading

COLUMBIA – Virginia Tech. Sandy Hook. Orlando. Las Vegas.

Four of the deadliest mass shootings in recent U.S. history. For many adults, the violence is too much to even think about, let alone understand.

So how should adults talk about these tragedies with children?

“Sometimes adults avoid conversations with children assuming that they’re going to make things more painful for them, and it’s actually just the opposite,” said Dr. Tashel Bordere, assistant professor of Human Development and Family Science at the University of Missouri.

The conversation was a must for parent and Moms Demand Action volunteer Catey Terry and her children. Terry said the shooting in Newtown, Connecticut was a major influence in talking to her children about gun violence. It also inspired her role in the movement for gun safety.

“I think what happened for a lot of us was Sandy Hook, that really changed everyone’s perception of the gun culture in this country and who was able to access weapons and what they would do with them once they got them,” Terry said. 

She said she saw the shooting and thought, "this is crazy."

“We shouldn’t have to live this way," she said. "I care about my children and their safety and I want them to be able to go to public places and be safe,” Terry said.

According to a study by the American Academy of Pediatrics, disasters and traumatic events like seeing mass shootings in the media or experiencing personal violence, can have potential short and long-term psychological effects in adults and children. 

Bordere said, “We may see a child who is more distracted, has changes in behavior, eating, sleeping, communication or anger. Sudden deaths betray our sense of trust in the world, so it causes children to really question their sense of safety in places that are important to them, such as the school environment.” 

Bordere said, although many parents mean well, avoiding discussing these issues and hiding their own distress can give the wrong impression to children.

“We get little education on how to deal with loss, although it’s a normal part of life across development,” Bordere said. "We really are a society of people, right now, who are grieving losses of people that we don’t even know."

She said initial instincts can be wrong.

“Communication with children, as difficult as it may feel, often is actually empowering for children because we’re able to clarify any misunderstandings about the violent death that occurred,” Bordere said. 

That’s why, she said, dealing with the problem head on can lead to better results when coping with the issue. She suggests keeping routines the same for children, ensuring a sense of safety and avoiding the use of clichés.

Children interpret language literally, she said, so clichés relating to death such as, "they’re all going on a trip" or “they all fell asleep,” can make a child afraid of everyday life. Bordere said being simple, concrete and direct with children is a better solution.

She also suggests giving children other outlets to express their emotions. She said planting a garden, making a donation to charity, or writing a letter to the family of the deceased can be therapeutic.

"It's important to establish some sense of power at a time when their worlds are feeling very shaken. These things can help do that,"  she said.

More News

Grid
List
BRANSON - The recent boat incident that killed 11 and injured seven in Branson isn't the first time Ride the... More >>
1 hour ago Friday, July 20 2018 Jul 20, 2018 Friday, July 20, 2018 2:06:00 AM CDT July 20, 2018 in News
COLUMBIA - Thursday evening around 9:00 pm, two cars collided head-on at the intersection of Worley St. and W. Boulevard.... More >>
4 hours ago Thursday, July 19 2018 Jul 19, 2018 Thursday, July 19, 2018 11:14:00 PM CDT July 19, 2018 in News
COLUMBIA - The City of Columbia confirmed Friday the household hazardous waste collection is cancelled. The waste collection was... More >>
5 hours ago Thursday, July 19 2018 Jul 19, 2018 Thursday, July 19, 2018 10:16:00 PM CDT July 19, 2018 in News
(CNN) -- More illnesses have been reported across the United States in two separate cyclospora outbreaks, federal health officials said... More >>
6 hours ago Thursday, July 19 2018 Jul 19, 2018 Thursday, July 19, 2018 9:31:35 PM CDT July 19, 2018 in News
BRANSON - The Stone County Sheriff has confirmed that Missouri State Highway Patrol diving searches have ended for the night... More >>
6 hours ago Thursday, July 19 2018 Jul 19, 2018 Thursday, July 19, 2018 9:12:00 PM CDT July 19, 2018 in News
(CNN) -- Gun-rights activists have reached a settlement with the government that... More >>
7 hours ago Thursday, July 19 2018 Jul 19, 2018 Thursday, July 19, 2018 8:57:04 PM CDT July 19, 2018 in News
COLUMBIA - The Loop CID met with the Planning and Zoning Committee Thursday night to discuss future plans for Business... More >>
8 hours ago Thursday, July 19 2018 Jul 19, 2018 Thursday, July 19, 2018 7:46:00 PM CDT July 19, 2018 in News
JEFFERSON CITY - Missouri House Minority Floor Leader Gail McCann Beatty will resign later this week to take a job... More >>
9 hours ago Thursday, July 19 2018 Jul 19, 2018 Thursday, July 19, 2018 6:55:00 PM CDT July 19, 2018 in News
DES MOINES, Iowa - Pella Regional Health Center spokeswoman Billie Rhamy confirmed Thursday evening injuries were minor and all patients... More >>
9 hours ago Thursday, July 19 2018 Jul 19, 2018 Thursday, July 19, 2018 6:49:00 PM CDT July 19, 2018 in Continuous News
(CNN) - President Donald Trump hopes to welcome Russian President Vladimir Putin in Washington this fall, White House press secretary... More >>
10 hours ago Thursday, July 19 2018 Jul 19, 2018 Thursday, July 19, 2018 5:09:00 PM CDT July 19, 2018 in News
JEFFERSON CITY - Planned Parenthood advocates demonstrated a mock health care waiting room in Governor Parson's office Thursday. The... More >>
11 hours ago Thursday, July 19 2018 Jul 19, 2018 Thursday, July 19, 2018 4:16:00 PM CDT July 19, 2018 in News
JEFFERSON CITY (AP) — Missouri Attorney General Josh Hawley has charged a former Greenville city clerk with stealing more than... More >>
12 hours ago Thursday, July 19 2018 Jul 19, 2018 Thursday, July 19, 2018 3:07:00 PM CDT July 19, 2018 in News
JEFFERSON CITY (AP) — State conservation officials say six black bears have died after being hit by vehicles in Missouri... More >>
13 hours ago Thursday, July 19 2018 Jul 19, 2018 Thursday, July 19, 2018 3:02:00 PM CDT July 19, 2018 in News
ALBANY (AP) — Prosecutors say a northern Missouri man and woman subjected an 11-year-old girl to nearly a year of... More >>
13 hours ago Thursday, July 19 2018 Jul 19, 2018 Thursday, July 19, 2018 2:54:00 PM CDT July 19, 2018 in News
POPLAR BLUFF (AP) — A police detective and an official with the U.S. Marshals Service are recovering after being shot... More >>
13 hours ago Thursday, July 19 2018 Jul 19, 2018 Thursday, July 19, 2018 2:39:00 PM CDT July 19, 2018 in News
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — A southern Missouri sheriff and a subordinate have been indicted on multiple felonies following a... More >>
13 hours ago Thursday, July 19 2018 Jul 19, 2018 Thursday, July 19, 2018 2:33:00 PM CDT July 19, 2018 in News
MANSFIELD (AP) — The Missouri State Highway Patrol says a Florida man suspected of shooting a trooper is hospitalized in... More >>
13 hours ago Thursday, July 19 2018 Jul 19, 2018 Thursday, July 19, 2018 2:19:00 PM CDT July 19, 2018 in News
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Three carnival workers have been arrested in the deaths of two vendors who disappeared from... More >>
13 hours ago Thursday, July 19 2018 Jul 19, 2018 Thursday, July 19, 2018 2:16:00 PM CDT July 19, 2018 in News
Columbia, MO
Broken Clouds 69°
5am 71°
6am 71°
7am 72°
8am 76°