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

1 week 5 days 4 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 – New blood pressure guidelines mean nearly half of adults in the U.S. that did not have high blood... More >>
3 days ago Saturday, November 18 2017 Nov 18, 2017 Saturday, November 18, 2017 2:12:00 PM CST November 18, 2017 in News
ST. LOUIS (AP) — Officials are testing for asbestos among the debris left from a massive St. Louis warehouse fire.... More >>
3 days ago Saturday, November 18 2017 Nov 18, 2017 Saturday, November 18, 2017 1:17:00 PM CST November 18, 2017 in News
ST. LOUIS (AP) — A Missouri prosecutor will not file criminal charges against a Southwest Airlines pilot arrested after Transportation... More >>
3 days ago Saturday, November 18 2017 Nov 18, 2017 Saturday, November 18, 2017 1:07:54 PM CST November 18, 2017 in News
ST. LOUIS (AP) — A St. Louis man is facing charges for allegedly shooting a mechanic in a dispute over... More >>
3 days ago Saturday, November 18 2017 Nov 18, 2017 Saturday, November 18, 2017 12:59:00 PM CST November 18, 2017 in News
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — The Christmas holiday begins this weekend at Union Station in Kansas City. The station... More >>
3 days ago Saturday, November 18 2017 Nov 18, 2017 Saturday, November 18, 2017 12:55:00 PM CST November 18, 2017 in News
JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) — The state of Missouri is looking for input on how to spend $41 million from... More >>
3 days ago Saturday, November 18 2017 Nov 18, 2017 Saturday, November 18, 2017 12:41:00 PM CST November 18, 2017 in News
COLUMBIA- The Columbia Holiday Festival is giving local vendors a platform to support mid-Missouri charities this weekend. The Holiday... More >>
3 days ago Saturday, November 18 2017 Nov 18, 2017 Saturday, November 18, 2017 11:42:00 AM CST November 18, 2017 in News
COLUMBIA - Columbia police and fire department units responded to reports of an overturned car at Grayson Cottages early Saturday... More >>
3 days ago Saturday, November 18 2017 Nov 18, 2017 Saturday, November 18, 2017 7:53:00 AM CST November 18, 2017 in Continuous News
CAMDENTON - The place a man envisioned as his retreat away from the hustle and bustle of regular life now... More >>
3 days ago Saturday, November 18 2017 Nov 18, 2017 Saturday, November 18, 2017 7:05:00 AM CST November 18, 2017 in News
COLUMBIA - Shots were fired in downtown Columbia early Saturday morning in an area typically packed with late night celebrants.... More >>
3 days ago Saturday, November 18 2017 Nov 18, 2017 Saturday, November 18, 2017 12:49:00 AM CST November 18, 2017 in News
COLUMBIA - One person was hurt in a crash on Stadium Boulevard at the intersections of East Pointe Road and... More >>
3 days ago Friday, November 17 2017 Nov 17, 2017 Friday, November 17, 2017 9:12:00 PM CST November 17, 2017 in News
COLUMBIA - The Dalton Cardiovascular Research Center off Providence Road caught fire Friday night. A division chief said crews... More >>
3 days ago Friday, November 17 2017 Nov 17, 2017 Friday, November 17, 2017 8:19:52 PM CST November 17, 2017 in News
COLUMBIA - Each of Missouri’s counties are slating new council members for their MU Extension County Council. The councils... More >>
4 days ago Friday, November 17 2017 Nov 17, 2017 Friday, November 17, 2017 6:52:00 PM CST November 17, 2017 in News
COLUMBIA – The Missouri State Highway Patrol will be putting "all available troopers" on the roads over Thanksgiving week. ... More >>
4 days ago Friday, November 17 2017 Nov 17, 2017 Friday, November 17, 2017 5:58:00 PM CST November 17, 2017 in News
COLUMBIA - Gloomy weather and a possible chance of rain isn't going to stop one Columbia organization from throwing on... More >>
4 days ago Friday, November 17 2017 Nov 17, 2017 Friday, November 17, 2017 4:12:00 PM CST November 17, 2017 in News
ASHLAND - The approval process took several months, but the process of planning a switch to a new sewage treatment... More >>
4 days ago Friday, November 17 2017 Nov 17, 2017 Friday, November 17, 2017 4:00:00 PM CST November 17, 2017 in News
KINGDOM CITY - Hatton-McCredie Elementary’s 5th grade class donated $900 to Central Missouri Honor Flight, in honor of a late... More >>
4 days ago Friday, November 17 2017 Nov 17, 2017 Friday, November 17, 2017 3:51:00 PM CST November 17, 2017 in News
COLUMBIA - Haby Naya grew up in Chad, Africa. She spent lots of her free time braiding hair, anyone’s hair... More >>
4 days ago Friday, November 17 2017 Nov 17, 2017 Friday, November 17, 2017 3:45:00 PM CST November 17, 2017 in News
Columbia, MO
Broken Clouds 38°
8pm 36°
9pm 34°
10pm 32°
11pm 30°

Select a station to view its upcoming schedule:

Coming Up Next

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

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