Child psychologist speaks about Conn. shooting
UNDATED (WHDH) -- A local psychologist says there is one word parents need to remember as local school kids learn of the tragedy in Newtown, Connecticut: communication.
There are many questions we will ask ourselves in the aftermath of the horrific Newtown school shooting. And children will also have questions.
Dr. Jonathan Comer, a child psychologist at Boston University, says to be open to their questions.
“Of course, there are no easy answers, and the most important thing is to give children an opportunity to express their feelings and their worries,” Comer said.
Dr. Comer says very young children might not understand everything about the shooting and he says they don't have to -- so limit the details and the emotion.
“This is not an opportunity for parents to express to their children their own concerns and their own fears -- kids look to us as parents as models of how much anxiety and fear they should have, in response to a situation like this,” said Dr. Comer.
Middle-schoolers will understand and make connections, so Dr. Comer says limit their exposure to news programs Friday and over the weekend.
“We find that children who are exposed to very traumatic events can actually develop traumatic stress reactions as though they were directly witnessing these events. So we really want to minimize how much exposure children have,” said Dr. Comer.
The important thing to remember, Dr. Comer says, is that this is an extremely rare event and overall, schools are safe.
“Serious acts of violence are still incredibly rare in school settings and schools have crisis plans to keep children safe. Even when emergencies happen,” said Dr. Comer.
Dr. Comer says to carefully monitor children who have dealt with traumatic events in the past. The Newtown shooting could trigger painful feelings for them. He says, in some cases, professional help could be needed.