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How To Talk To Children After Tragedies

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(Photo Credit: KDKA)

(Photo Credit: KDKA)

Paul Martino Paul Martino
Paul joined KDKA-TV in 1984 as a general assignment reporter and later...
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PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – Tragedies like Friday’s shooting at an elementary school in Connecticut can leave children involved terrified.

But it can also scare any child who hears about it.

One local expert explains how to talk to children about such tragedies.

Parents of children at Martin Luther King, Jr. Elementary School on the North Side responded to Friday’s shooting.

“You would think going to school they’re safe and they’re not safe anywhere,” one woman said.

“It’s ridiculous, it’s ridiculous,” another woman said. “How – why do you do that to little kids?”

Dr. Anthony Mannarino, Director of the Center for Traumatic Stress in children and adolescents, says parents need to talk calmly to their children about such events.

And that parents should draw their children out, because they may be reluctant to talk about how they feel.

“We’re going to have to, as adults, initiate those conversations,” Mannarino said. “We’re going to have to be the ones that ask our children, how are they feeling about what happened, what are they thinking, what facts do they know?”

He’s treated children who have faced violent scenes like the one in Connecticut. They often have Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.

“Not only is there fear and anxiety, but there’s tremendous sadness associated with losing your friends and your classmates who have died,” Mannarino said.

But Mannarino says children are resilient and they can be successfully treated after a trauma like Friday’s.

“We need to make sure these kids are screened and evaluated if they have problems and get them the help that they need,” he said.

Mannarino also says the amount of time children are watching these things on television should be restricted.

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