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

1 week 4 days 19 hours 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
COLUMBIA - Prosecutors charged an inmate at the Boone County Jail with damaging the facility after he allegedly flushed his... More >>
21 hours ago Monday, November 20 2017 Nov 20, 2017 Monday, November 20, 2017 1:53:33 PM CST November 20, 2017 in News
ST. LOUIS (AP) — A federal investigation will look into possible civil rights violations by police in the St.... More >>
21 hours ago Monday, November 20 2017 Nov 20, 2017 Monday, November 20, 2017 1:44:00 PM CST November 20, 2017 in News
FAYETTE - The special prosecutor in the case against a woman accused of bullying a teenager has filed more charges,... More >>
22 hours ago Monday, November 20 2017 Nov 20, 2017 Monday, November 20, 2017 1:06:00 PM CST November 20, 2017 in News
COLUMBIA - With the holiday season upon us, more people will be traveling, and Columbia Regional Airport announced another way... More >>
22 hours ago Monday, November 20 2017 Nov 20, 2017 Monday, November 20, 2017 12:51:00 PM CST November 20, 2017 in News
SPRINGFIELD (AP) — The governor of Missouri has appointed 16 people to help review child abuse cases after the state... More >>
22 hours ago Monday, November 20 2017 Nov 20, 2017 Monday, November 20, 2017 12:35:38 PM CST November 20, 2017 in News
POTOSI (AP) — An eastern Missouri police officer has died following an off-duty accident. The Daily Journal newspaper in... More >>
1 day ago Monday, November 20 2017 Nov 20, 2017 Monday, November 20, 2017 11:22:00 AM CST November 20, 2017 in News
MOBERLY - Authorities are investigating a possible explosion that led to a structure fire in Moberly Sunday night. The... More >>
1 day ago Monday, November 20 2017 Nov 20, 2017 Monday, November 20, 2017 10:25:00 AM CST November 20, 2017 in News
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Federal authorities are working to seize more than $491,000 of suspected drug money found during... More >>
1 day ago Monday, November 20 2017 Nov 20, 2017 Monday, November 20, 2017 7:47:11 AM CST November 20, 2017 in News
JEFFERSON CITY - Officers located shell casings and vehicles damaged by gunfire Sunday evening, Jefferson City police said in a... More >>
1 day ago Sunday, November 19 2017 Nov 19, 2017 Sunday, November 19, 2017 10:34:00 PM CST November 19, 2017 in News
COLUMBIA - Videos surfacing from two Columbia neighborhoods show individuals stealing packages from doorsteps. A video from a neighbor... More >>
1 day ago Sunday, November 19 2017 Nov 19, 2017 Sunday, November 19, 2017 10:00:00 PM CST November 19, 2017 in News
COLUMBIA - The 38th annual holiday parade kicked off with sirens as police cars took the lead. The parade... More >>
1 day ago Sunday, November 19 2017 Nov 19, 2017 Sunday, November 19, 2017 6:09:00 PM CST November 19, 2017 in News
ST. LOUIS (AP) — Two students who studied at Washington University in St. Louis have been selected as Rhodes scholars.... More >>
1 day ago Sunday, November 19 2017 Nov 19, 2017 Sunday, November 19, 2017 5:21:00 PM CST November 19, 2017 in News
COLUMBIA - Prosecutors filed charges against a woman suspected in a Sunday morning shooting that sent a man to the... More >>
1 day ago Sunday, November 19 2017 Nov 19, 2017 Sunday, November 19, 2017 4:12:00 PM CST November 19, 2017 in News
NIXA (AP) — A city in southwest Missouri has opened the largest solar farm in the state. The Springfield... More >>
1 day ago Sunday, November 19 2017 Nov 19, 2017 Sunday, November 19, 2017 12:34:00 PM CST November 19, 2017 in News
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Drew Lock threw three touchdown passes and Missouri won its fifth straight game to become bowl... More >>
2 days ago Sunday, November 19 2017 Nov 19, 2017 Sunday, November 19, 2017 7:07:00 AM CST November 19, 2017 in News
COLUMBIA - A suspect struck a victim, and suspects fired multiple rounds, brandished at least one firearm and took property... More >>
2 days ago Saturday, November 18 2017 Nov 18, 2017 Saturday, November 18, 2017 11:45:00 PM CST November 18, 2017 in News
COLUMBIA – While in Chad, Haby Naya learned how to braid hair by doing her friend’s, sister’s and even her... More >>
2 days ago Saturday, November 18 2017 Nov 18, 2017 Saturday, November 18, 2017 11:25:00 PM CST November 18, 2017 in News
COLUMBIA - If experience is important for success in sports, basketball players worldwide have much to learn from the Granny... More >>
2 days ago Saturday, November 18 2017 Nov 18, 2017 Saturday, November 18, 2017 10:53:00 PM CST November 18, 2017 in News
Columbia, MO
Broken Clouds 50°
12pm 52°
1pm 51°
2pm 50°
3pm 49°

Select a station to view its upcoming schedule:

Coming Up Next

11:00a
Rachael Ray
12:00p
KOMU 8 News @ Noon
12:30p
Inside Edition
11:00a
Jerry Springer
12:00p
Jerry Springer
1:00p
Maury

Tonight's Schedule

7:00p
The Voice
8:00p
This Is Us
9:01p
Chicago Med
7:00p
The Flash
8:00p
DC's Legends of Tomorrow
9:00p
KOMU 8 News @ Nine on The CW
9:30p
Seinfeld