Expert on talking to kids about mass shootings: ‘Let the child talk about it’


After a mass shooting, some parents may instinctively try to shield their kids from what happened. Elaine Spaull is the executive director of the Center For Youth. She said it’s good to hide disturbing details and images, but it’s best to be open with them.

“This is our children’s new sad reality. It is their reality and we know that they will be exposed even just walking by a television even hearing parents talk about it. The worst thing we can do is try to quiet a child or hush a child or not talk about it. Let the child talk about it. It’s obviously some very tough conversations. It’s very hard to understand even for adults,” said Spaull.

Spaull said kids can tell when their parents are upset by something.

“It’s nonsensical. And yet for a child, they’re trying to figure out, ‘are they going to come for me, am I at risk’, and you have to try your very best in a calm voice to explain that they’re not at risk that we’re going to keep them safe. The problem is, children are very perceptive and they know that these were children just in Wal Mart with their parents and they weren’t able to be kept safe.”

She said even though we may not be surprised by another mass shooting, we should still show our kids our shock and disgust.

“We have to resist the temptation to think this is our norm. It’s not our norm, it’s not okay, but we’re not surprised and I think that’s the saddest thing about it.”

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