Texas school shooting forces LI parents to consider how to talk to their kids about gun violence
The school shooting in Texas may have happened more than 1,000 miles away from Long Island, but it's hitting close to home for parents in the area.
Long Island mothers, fathers and guardians are now wondering how to talk to their children about gun violence.
Psychiatrist Dr. Liat Jarkon, director for the Center for Behavioral Health at NYIT, says parents need to check on themselves emotionally first.
She says a lot of adults reach out to her and are "shook" and "devastated."
"Once you wrap your head around it as an adult then you need to approach your kids directly and explain to them, 'This was a tragedy, it should not have happened,'" Jarkon says.
The doctor says parents should reassure children that they are safe and does not suggest that parents keep their children home from school out of fear.
"They should return to school as soon as possible because we don't want them to have the message that they have to run away or avoid when things happen, when they are out of our control," Jarkon says.
Experts say parents should find out what younger children know first. If they are upset, then address it with them in simple terms and reassure them that teachers and school officials know what to do in an emergency.
If children are older, parents are advised to find out how they feel about the shooting, listen to them and encourage them to keep talking to them or mental health counselors in or out of school.
"They do talk about it in schools, so I base it on what the teachers are going by so I'm going by what their peers are discussing rather than going by what we think," says Aileen Chico, of Plainview.
Experts also say anyone having a hard time with the mass shooting should have a mental health check-up.