Springfield Public School counselors share how to discuss mass shootings with children

Published: May. 25, 2022 at 1:33 PM CDT|Updated: May. 25, 2022 at 4:00 PM CDT
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SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (KY3) - Many parents find it hard to speak to their kids about traumatic events, but trauma experts said to keep it concise and straightforward.

A teenage gunman massacred 19 children and two teachers at an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas. Salvador Ramos, 18, warned on social media minutes before the attack he had shot his grandmother and going to shoot up a school, the governor said Wednesday.

Robyn Fondren, the coordinator of counselors for Springfield Public Schools, said when talking to teens about trauma, answer the hard-hitting questions, tell them the truth, and remind them they are safe. For younger kids, ask them open-ended questions such as what they heard, validate feelings, and tell them the story without details so they don’t get overwhelmed.

Fondren said open communication is a must for a parent-child relationship

“It’s going to help support educators as well educators, parents, and kids,” said Fondren. “It’s a team effort in every way, shape, and form,” said Fondren. “Whenever parents can help support teachers and teachers support students and parents. It’s just going to better the lives of all of our students.”

Fondren said not to shy away from bringing up severe topics to kids.

“This is really hard,” said Fondren. This is really scary stuff. I’m scared too. But also bringing it back to the safety that we do have control over and the safety that parents can provide for kids when they are home.”

Fondren said it could be unconformable when talking to kids about traumatic events, but it’s okay to let your emotions flow.

“I think it’s great for parents to share those emotions with kids and show that I’m sad,” said Fondren.

Shawna Wheatman, who has two young kids, said showing your feelings helps build trust with your kids.

“Showing emotion is a good thing because it shows that we’re human just like, children are,” said Wheatman.

Wheatman said being honest builds trust.

“To be honest. Honesty is the key,” said Wheatman. “That’s what’s going to get that door open so that your kids trust you and talk to you.”

Wheatman said if you are honest with them, they will return that honesty to you.

“If you hear somebody talking about bringing a gun, or anything to hurt, or shoot the school up or hurt the people after school to tell somebody, don’t just pretend like it’s a game, take it seriously,” said Wheatman.

Fondren said if you notice your children have different behaviors or something is bothering them, reach out for more support, whether it’s a counselor or something else because we all don’t know the answers.

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