What I learned after Sandy Hook

By: Dr. Shalini Forbis

The one year anniversary of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shootings is upon us.  This is a sad time in our nation’s history.  The lives of the first grade teachers, their students and school staff can never be regained!

However, I want to share with you my own learning experience from last year. It was within the days immediately after the Sandy Hook tragedy.  I was driving my second grader to school, as I typically do, listening to the radio.  Well, for years, I have made it a point to listen to the news on the radio as I drive her to school and then head to work.  I realized, just as I was turning in to school, that I am dropping my 7 year old second grader at school and she is hearing the reporters on the radio talk about 20 first graders being murdered while at school!  I very quickly changed the channel, but I felt terrible that day.

Sure, I told her to have a great day, gave her a kiss and she seemed to be in good spirits as she went to school.  But I hated sending her into school right after hearing that story.

Since that time, I have made a point of turning on music until after I have dropped her at school.  I don’t have a problem with her hearing the news, even about Sandy Hook. But not right before she leaves for school, when I don’t have time to discuss what might have been said, answer questions or allay her fears.  As she gets older, she will be ready for that!

Already, I am seeing more news articles popping up on my Google News page about the shooting as December 14th approaches.  Be aware of not overloading younger elementary aged kids with too much talk about Sandy Hook.  Answer questions as needed and its okay to reassure your children. After all, these are tragic, but rare occurrences.

Check out this KidsHealth article for more information on talking to your kids about school violence and the news.

Dr. Forbis a pediatrician in the Children’s Health Clinic at Dayton Children’s and a mother to two girls. As part of the “Dr. Mom Sqaud,” Dr. Forbis blogs about her experiences as both as doctor and a mom and hopes to share insight to other parents on issues related to both parenting and kids health. Learn more about Dr. Forbis.
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