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

2 months 1 week 3 days 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
WASHINGTON (CNN) -- In the final moments leading up to Friday's midnight deadline, Senate Republicans and Democrats were unable to... More >>
27 minutes ago Saturday, January 20 2018 Jan 20, 2018 Saturday, January 20, 2018 5:00:00 AM CST January 20, 2018 in News
(CNN) - The FBI recently opened an inquiry into Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens, two US officials told CNN, as he... More >>
8 hours ago Friday, January 19 2018 Jan 19, 2018 Friday, January 19, 2018 9:19:05 PM CST January 19, 2018 in Continuous News
COLUMBIA - A visiting MU researcher is working to fight cancer with blueberries - specifically the extract of the fruit.... More >>
9 hours ago Friday, January 19 2018 Jan 19, 2018 Friday, January 19, 2018 8:06:00 PM CST January 19, 2018 in News
COLUMBIA - Some facilities in the state may be required to hang posters with information about human trafficking by the... More >>
10 hours ago Friday, January 19 2018 Jan 19, 2018 Friday, January 19, 2018 6:43:00 PM CST January 19, 2018 in News
JEFFERSON CITY (AP) — Missouri offered Amazon nearly $2.5 billion in incentives over 10 years in a bid to... More >>
12 hours ago Friday, January 19 2018 Jan 19, 2018 Friday, January 19, 2018 5:25:09 PM CST January 19, 2018 in News
COLUMBIA - Researchers at the University of Missouri have found that 80 percent of state students who needed treatment for... More >>
13 hours ago Friday, January 19 2018 Jan 19, 2018 Friday, January 19, 2018 4:09:00 PM CST January 19, 2018 in News
COLUMBIA - Campaign finance reports revealed Governor Eric Greitens' campaign operation has been leasing space in the same complex as... More >>
13 hours ago Friday, January 19 2018 Jan 19, 2018 Friday, January 19, 2018 4:03:00 PM CST January 19, 2018 in News
COLUMBIA- The annual blood drive for fallen officer Molly Bowden came at a time when collecting blood is vital. ... More >>
13 hours ago Friday, January 19 2018 Jan 19, 2018 Friday, January 19, 2018 3:56:00 PM CST January 19, 2018 in Continuous News
COLUMBIA- A federal judge sentenced a man to more than 20 years in prison Friday for exploiting several children under... More >>
14 hours ago Friday, January 19 2018 Jan 19, 2018 Friday, January 19, 2018 2:37:00 PM CST January 19, 2018 in News
COLUMBIA- While the government heads toward a possible partial shut down many government agencies in mid-Missouri will remain open. ... More >>
15 hours ago Friday, January 19 2018 Jan 19, 2018 Friday, January 19, 2018 2:23:00 PM CST January 19, 2018 in News
JEFFERSON CITY - Rep. Dean Dohrman, (R-La Monte) has introduced House Bill 1528 to the Missouri Legislature. The bill requires... More >>
15 hours ago Friday, January 19 2018 Jan 19, 2018 Friday, January 19, 2018 2:21:00 PM CST January 19, 2018 in News
ST. LOUIS - Governor Greitens' attorney said Friday the rumors about Greitens possibly resigning hold "zero truth". Rumors of... More >>
16 hours ago Friday, January 19 2018 Jan 19, 2018 Friday, January 19, 2018 1:21:00 PM CST January 19, 2018 in News
COLUMBIA - Property restrictions based on race and ethnicity are not a thing of the past, in fact, they can... More >>
17 hours ago Friday, January 19 2018 Jan 19, 2018 Friday, January 19, 2018 11:37:00 AM CST January 19, 2018 in News
SEDALIA (AP) — An 18-year-old staying at a Missouri ranch for homeless boys has been charged with killing a woman... More >>
19 hours ago Friday, January 19 2018 Jan 19, 2018 Friday, January 19, 2018 9:56:00 AM CST January 19, 2018 in News
KANSAS CITY (AP) — Two Kansas City brothers have been charged with killing a man and then dumping his... More >>
20 hours ago Friday, January 19 2018 Jan 19, 2018 Friday, January 19, 2018 9:11:00 AM CST January 19, 2018 in News
COLUMBIA - "From the early 1900s to the 1960s, the Sharp End business district was a city within a city... More >>
21 hours ago Friday, January 19 2018 Jan 19, 2018 Friday, January 19, 2018 7:43:00 AM CST January 19, 2018 in News
KANSAS CITY (AP) — A Kansas City man who was thousands of dollars in debt from a drunken driving... More >>
23 hours ago Friday, January 19 2018 Jan 19, 2018 Friday, January 19, 2018 5:32:30 AM CST January 19, 2018 in News
COLUMBIA - Deputies booked two men into the Boone County Jail on suspicion of various charges, including an apparent plan... More >>
1 day ago Thursday, January 18 2018 Jan 18, 2018 Thursday, January 18, 2018 10:45:00 PM CST January 18, 2018 in News
Columbia, MO
Broken Clouds 36°
6am 35°
7am 37°
8am 39°
9am 41°

Select a station to view its upcoming schedule:

Coming Up Next

5:00a
This Week in Mizzou Basketball
5:30a
On the Money
6:00a
KOMU 8 News Today
5:00a
Paid Program
5:30a
Paid Program
6:00a
Paid Program

Tonight's Schedule

7:00p
Will & Grace
7:30p
Superstore
8:00p
Dateline NBC
9:00p
Saturday Night Live
7:00p
Family Guy
7:30p
Family Guy
8:00p
Bob's Burgers
8:30p
Bob's Burgers
9:00p
KOMU 8 News @ Nine on The CW
9:30p
Seinfeld