Driving to school today with my daughter, I had the radio station tuned to the local country music station. Because of last night’s horrific shooting at a country music festival in Las Vegas, the break between songs focused on the news of over 50 dead and over 400 injured in the deadliest mass shooting in our country’s history. A few years ago, I would have quickly turned the radio off and changed the subject. But my daughter is in middle school now and she and a lot of her friends like country music and there is a good chance she will hear something about this news somewhere in her travels today.
So I decided to ask her if she heard the news about what happened last night. I explained how the shooting happened and that this was an outside concert with a hotel nearby that overlooked the venue. I reminded her of the security checks that happen at the concerts that we go to and how this would not happen. I also told her that this was the worst shooting in the hundreds of years that our country has been established.
While I know that the conversation between adults on this matter might be a little different. My main goal is to not raise my daughter’s level of concern when it comes to these types of events. I want her to know she is safe and that she has to worry about. I am not sure I handled it perfectly, but I don’t think to turn off the radio would have been the right thing to do.
With this in mind, I decided to do a quick Google search on talking to kids about mass shootings and found a good article from Psychology Today on the topic. I encourage parents to read the entire article, but here are a few highlights:
“…many experts recommend no news viewing until age 11 or so, and after that age, minimized viewing together with adults who reassure them and help them process information from a calm, accurate, adult perspective.Reassure them that shootings and attacks are very unlikely to happen to them, their friends, or family…Ask if they have any questions (it’s okay not to have all the answers) and say you’d like to talk again whenever they want. Say it’s good to talk about concerns…”