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Ways for parents to help kids cope after a school shooting

A Sparks Middle School student cries after Monday's shooting in Sparks, Nev.
Kevin Clifford
Many of today’s young people have grown up in the shadow of mass shootings, including at Columbine High School, Sandy Hook Elementary School, Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School and, most recently, Robb Elementary School.

The Texas massacre at Robb Elementary was the 77th incident involving gunfire on school grounds this year, leaving many kids and adults around the country anxious and fearful

More than two thirds of children have undergone at least one traumatic event by the time they reach age 16, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. These events can include neglect, physical or sexual assault, a life-threatening illness or, increasingly, gun-related violence.

If it's not treated immediately, the impact of child traumatic stress can last well beyond childhood.

Brooke Seiz, a licensed professional counselor in Kansas City, and Olivia Carter, school counselor at Cape Girardeau Public Schools, have found that child trauma survivors may experience learning problems, long term heath problems and an increase in health and mental health services.

To help children get through these traumatic events, Seiz and Carter say parents should assure children that they are safe, explain that they are not responsible, seek trained professional help and, most importantly, be patient.

  • Brooke Seiz, licensed professional counselor
  • Olivia Carter, school counselor for Cape Girardeau Public Schools and 2021 National Counselor of the Year
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