Students from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School support each other after the deadly shooting on February 14, 2018.

Resources to Help Children in the Wake of a School Shooting

February 16, 2018

In the wake of the tragic and terrible shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, Child Trends has produced a round-up of resources to help children and young people in the wake of a school shooting or violent act.

As adults struggle with their own reactions to the school shooting, young eyes and ears are watching and listening. This is an important time to talk to children about what they are seeing and hearing, even when they did not directly witness the event. While it can be difficult to know what to say, evidence from research and clinical practice can help us with these difficult conversations.

Honesty is important when speaking with children about school shootings, but that doesn’t mean they need to know the details. What children need to know, and how we talk with them about such tragedies, is best considered through a developmental lens. How we answer their questions, for example, should depend on what they can understand and process without heightening their distress.

For a child of any age, it is important to begin by finding out what they already know. The National Child Traumatic Stress Network recommends gently correcting inaccurate information, encouraging children to ask questions, and answering them directly. Adults can respond by acknowledging the child’s experience and feelings about the event, rather than focusing on the event itself. Parents can use a number of resources to find the right words to say, including apps such as Help Kids Cope. However, conversations should be tailored to the age of the child.

Learn more and get the full list of resources on the Child Trends site, here.

Emily Stets