Ways To Prepare Your Child And Talk To Him About Gun Violence & School Shootings

Gun violence. Mass shootings in schools. Multiple shooters in action. The mere mention of these terms is enough to send chills down the spines of worried parents all around the country. The majority of parents would rather not even think about their children. However, it is impossible to avoid talking about issues such as gun violence and shootings in schools.

Many of the young people of today have grown up in a world where it is no longer unheard of for multiple people to be killed in a single incident, such as what took place at Columbine High School, Sandy Hook Elementary, and Majorie Stoneman Douglas High School. Not only are the calamities that have befallen them fresh in their thoughts, but their schools also routinely conduct active shooter drills for them to participate in.


Because our children and teenagers won’t be able to avoid hearing about these terrible occurrences, it is important for caretakers to be familiar with the many approaches they can take when having conversations about them with their charges. Conversations with your children should be continual and should be appropriate to their ages, according to the advise of several experts. By teaching children what signs to watch for, how to keep themselves safe, and how to report concerns, we can provide them the tools they need to respond appropriately in the event that something terrible occurs.

The first step is as follows.

Why These Conversations Are Important

One in every ten people who die from a gunshot wound in the United States is under the age of 19, making firearms the greatest cause of death among children and adolescents in the country. More than three times as many people die from firearms as they do from drowning.

In addition to that, research has shown that 93 percent of people who commit school shootings plot their assaults in advance. In addition, the perpetrator of four out of every five school shootings shared their intentions with another person in advance. For this reason, parents and teachers need to teach children not just how to spot the signals of a problem with a friend or a peer but also who they may talk to about their concerns.

This will allow the children to get the help they need.

According to the findings of the research, we still have a significant distance to travel in this domain. According to a study that was carried out by Alfred University in Alfred, New York, only about half of the students who were surveyed stated that they would tell an adult if they overheard someone at school talking about shooting someone, and if they did tell someone, they would tell a teacher. If they did tell someone, they would tell a teacher.

The experts agree that the best way to get more children to speak out is for their parents and teachers to continue having conversations with them and to give them the confidence to speak up if they observe or become aware of something troubling. This implies having talks that are ongoing and proactive rather than merely having a conversation after a tragedy has already taken place. If this is done, it might go a long way toward avoiding school shootings and other acts of gun violence in the future.

Process Your Feelings

You, as a parent, need to go through your own thoughts regarding the issue of school shootings and gun violence before you can have a dialogue about these topics with your kid or teen. Children have an uncanny ability to pick up on feelings of tension and anxiety in their caregivers; therefore, it is imperative that you address and resolve any concerns you have regarding the topic at hand before interacting with children. You’ll be able to approach the subject in a calm and reassuring manner if you do it this way.

According to Gregory Moffatt, Ph.D., a psychologist, homicide profiler, and the dean of the College of Social and Behavioral Sciences at Point University, it is essential to keep in mind that children do not think about gun violence and school shootings in the same way that adults do. This is an important point to keep in mind.

Follow Your Child’s Lead

Both Dr. Masi and Dr. Moffatt recommend that parents connect with their children and teenagers in a manner that is more natural rather than drafting a speech for their children or giving them a lecture on what to do in the event that someone brings a gun to school.

Ask them questions with open-ended responses and let them take the lead in the conversation.

In addition to that, Dr. Masi recommends that you respond to their inquiries to the best of your ability. It is also OK to respond with “I don’t know” if you are unsure of the response.

There are situations when you and the other person can even look for the answer jointly.

She explains that one of the most important aspects of these interactions is paying attention to the other person’s body language and following their lead. “Parents don’t always pick up on these signs that their children are finished with the subject and not ready to talk about it any longer,”

On the other hand, if your kid starts doing something else, seems less involved, or looks away, it’s possible that they’ve reached their limit on the topic, and it would be best to discuss it another time.

Reassure Them

When not addressed in the appropriate manner, the possibility of gun violence and school shootings can instill a sense of dread in young people. Dr. Masi emphasizes that it is just as vital to reassure children that they are safe as it is to have dialogues with them about the possibility of a school shooting happening at their school.

She advises that parents shouldn’t resort to fear tactics at any costs.

Normalize Having Hard Conversations

Validating and accepting your child’s feelings is something that both Dr. Masi and Dr. Moffatt propose doing when it seems as though your youngster is becoming overwhelmed by these emotionally charged themes.

According to Dr. Moffatt, one of the things that parents typically fear with anything difficult is that bringing up the topic is going to produce problems. “Bringing up the topic is going to cause problems,” “It is imperative that parents demonstrate to their children that it is acceptable to bring up uncomfortable topics. Give them the assurance that it is acceptable to discuss [troubling topics].”

He continues by saying that it is essential for parents to understand that we all experience the same emotions. Validate how your child must be feeling by saying things like, “That must be scary for you,” or asking, “What can we do when feeling like that?” rather than saying things like, “Oh everything will be fine,” or “There is no need to worry.” Instead of saying these things, you should validate how your child must be feeling. You are assisting your child in developing the ability to develop healthy coping mechanisms for challenging ideas and feelings when you normalize talking about hard topics and validate their experiences.

Provide Them With Tools

Dr. Masi emphasizes that the key to empowering children and ultimately eliminating violence in schools is to teach children to recognize the areas in which they have the ability to make an influence. It can go a long way toward helping children feel powerful and in control of their lives if they are given skills and tools that they can employ.

She proposes that people participate in group brainstorming if they are feeling particularly anxious or stressed out. You may begin by saying something along the lines of “All right, so let’s think about some good ways that make your school feel safer.” You can also assist them in finding people or other students at school who they can speak to during the day or who they can chat to at school.

Keep the Dialogue Open

Dr. Moffat emphasizes that discussions concerning school shootings, drugs, and sexual activity should take place on an ongoing basis; nevertheless, many parents have the misconception that these types of conversations can take place only once. It is a discussion that you continue to have over the years with your child, a discussion that shifts and develops as your child gets older and has more questions.

“If you approach this as just one talk, you’re not going to be super effective, and your kids aren’t going to be prepared,” says Dr. Moffatt. “But if you view it as a series of conversations,” she says, “you’re going to be super effective.”

It is essential to come full circle and revisit this subject. Ask your children what they are seeing at school, as well as if there is anything that is making them uncomfortable or giving them cause for fear. Instead of believing that you need to have something prepared in advance, you could give them the opportunity to voice their concerns and steer the conversation in their direction.

Use Drills to Touch Base

The majority of the time, schools will conduct active shooter drills or other similar processes in order to educate students on how to react in the event of an emergency. According to Dr. Moffatt, the objective is for the actions to keep safe to become as natural to children as participating in a fire exercise or a tornado drill would be.

You can also take advantage of the circumstances to check in with your children and have a dialogue with them about what they are thinking and how they are feeling about the possibility of a shooting occurring at their school. Observe what they are doing and what they are learning, and then tell them that even in a precarious circumstance like that, they are not helpless and that there are things they can do to protect themselves.