What to Tell Your Child

OCTOBER 2, 2006 -- POSTED AT 9:00 P.M. CDT

JONESBORO, AR -- It's the third deadly school shooting in less than a week and that's something that alarms both children and parents. But as parents what can you do to help curb your child's fears and your own?

Dr. Brad Holloway, Director of Clinical Services and Psychologist at Mid-South Health Systems says many parents wonder, are the schools more prepared and safer now than they were years ago when school shootings were nearly common. After Monday, that almost seems hard to trust.

"We can't build a chain link fence around it with razor wire, but a lot of our schools have done a lot to improve that, with security cameras, but yes the anxiety is real for us parents," says Holloway.

He says he understands the concerns and as a parent himself, he feels some of the same feelings.  However, he believes that kids need to trust that their parents are comfortable with sending them to school each day.

"Our school administrators, our law enforcement want to do what's right. They want to make our kids as safe as possible, but let's share that with our kids that we trust that that's good, that that's a safe place to be," says Holloway.

Counselors continue to say one of the most important things you can do for your children is to make them feel comfortable talking about their fears.

"Let them talk about some of those things you know we certainly can't just say don't worry about it, go to bed and go to sleep, nothing's ever going to happen, that's one extreme. Then again, we can't over react so that every waking minute that's all they think about," says Holloway.

Tracy Shoemaker is a mother of two and an elementary school counselor. She says she also tries to make her children feel comfortable talking about their feelings and concerns at school.

"When things like this happen, it's a good opportunity to talk about it, but not so much that they are going to school fearing that that will happen to them, so there's kind of a fine line there of making them aware of it and what to look for and also trying to help them feel safe," says Shoemaker.

She says when it comes time to talking to your child, remember that every child is different and their personal way of dealing with things should help guide you as a parent.

"Some children can hear the news and be frightened and others just blow it off. That's not going to happen to me, that happened somewhere else, so you have to know your child so you can know how much to say," says Shoemaker.

There are no easy answers, but it is important for parents to try to explain what has happened.  Talking to your child about school safety issues can help ease their fears and anxieties about their personal safety. For tips on how to talk to your child, click on the link below to the National Mental Health Association's website.