Updated: Aug 17, 2019
Our hearts are broken for the citizens of Marshall County Kentucky.
On Tuesday 1/23/2018 @ 7:57am, a 15 year old male student open fired on his school, Marshall County High School, in Benton Kentucky. He killed 2 other 15 year olds and injured 17 other students. He was apprehended and is currently in custody awaiting grand jury.This tragedy will most certainly traumatize all of us in Kentucky, the Country, but mostly the victims and their families of this senseless violent act.
As adults we have a very difficult time wrapping our minds around why this happens. Children's minds and emotions are still developing and they will have a really difficult time understanding violence and how to feel safe.
How do you approach this with your children?
Should you say something or carry on with life as usual?
What do you say when you don’t understand it yourself?
You must talk about it! Don’t ignore and carry on with daily life.
Ignoring the subject can create more anxiety in your children, making them feel unsafe, anxious and alone. Not addressing these feelings can cause lifelong problems. The most important thing to do is to reassure your children that you, the teachers, principals, school staff, and the police are all working very hard on keeping them and their school safe.
Tell them that you do not understand it yourself and explain how upsetting it is for you as well, but be reassuring that you are there for them. It’s ok for your children to see you dealing with the same emotions as them regarding violence. It shows them that even adults have problems understanding violence and why it happens. This can help children accept their confusing feelings and let them know that they are not alone.
Limit your children’s exposure to the news whether it be online, on their smart phone or on the television. This will reduce some anxiety. This is the perfect time to discuss respect for others as well as school and social media bullying. Explain how important it is to come forward when they suspect another student is being bullied, sees a weapon, knows a kid with violent ideation, knows or suspects someone that is planning something violent or is behaving differently than usual. By telling a parent or school staff they may be preventing a future incident. If the child is wrong then it is a great time for the school to review with the students their bullying and active shooter policies and protocol.
It is also a great idea for the parents to know these policies and protocols and discuss an emergency action plan in the event this happens at their school.
Watch your children for signs of anxiety or adjustment issues. The signs according to the American Psychological Association (http://www.apa.org/topics/violence/school-shooting.aspx) are as follows:
Changes in your child’s school performance
Changes in relationships to include parents, family, peers or teachers
Refusing to go to school
Lack of, or restless sleep patterns
Other signs can include
Drug or alcohol abuse
Some children may have none of these symptoms but instead will internalize their anxiety.If your child shows any of the above symptoms or if you need help communicating or explaining school violence with your children please seek help and talk to a therapist or the school counselor immediately. The Life In Motion staff prays for those affected by this horrific tragedy, Kentucky, the country, our leaders and our families. Be blessed and be safe!
Have a blessed and balanced day!
Melissa Smith is an LMFT in the state of Kentucky. To find out more about her click here.
Live. Life. Balanced.Today is a blog written by licensed marriage and family therapist.
For more information about counseling go to www.LifeInMotionKentucky.com