How to Talk To Your Children About the Las Vegas Shooting

Save the Children mourns the loss of the innocent victims and extends our deepest sympathies to the families of the tragic shooting in Las Vegas. While the crisis continues to unfold, we know that children may be exposed to violent and heartbreaking accounts of the incident. Our childcare experts have prepared the following tips to help parents, teachers, grandparents and caregivers to provide comfort and understanding to children:

  • Limit television time. While it can be important for adults to stay informed about the situation, television images and reports may be confusing and frightening for children. Watching too many television reports can overwhelm children and even adults.
  • Listen to your children carefully. Try to find out what your child knows and understands about the situation before responding to their questions. Children can experience stress when they do not understand dangerous experiences. Find out what your child knows about the crisis. Then, talk to your child to help him or her understand the situation and ease their concerns.
  • Refrain from sharing graphic details. Instead, use the opportunity to talk through any concerns that your child may have. Listen carefully to your children, reassure them and be honest. Never lie. Address any inaccurate concerns they may have, such as school shootings happen frequently or children are not safe at school.
  • Focus on safety. Help children recognize the plans that are in place to protect them in all kinds of emergency situations.
  • Teach children response options. There may be a few ways to respond to an emergency situation based on where an intruder or danger is located. These include Get Out, Keep Out, or Hide Out.
    • Get Out: If it is possible to get away from danger, go to a safe place. Teachers, leaders and first responders will come to find you in your meeting place or another place.
    • Keep Out: If it is not possible to get out of the building or out of harm’s way, keep danger out of the room by locking and blocking the doors and staying away from the windows.
    • Hide Out: Stay out of sight from danger by hiding behind large pieces of furniture. Try to stay quiet so we know if we need to get out or when the danger has passed.
  • Give your children extra time and attention. Children need close, personal attention to know they are safe. Talk, play and, most importantly, listen to them. Find time to engage in special activities with children of all ages.
  • Be a model for your children. Your children will learn how to deal with tragic events by seeing how you respond. The amount you tell children about how you’re feeling should depend on the age and maturity of the child. You may be able to disclose more to older or more mature children but remember to do so calmly.
  • Monitor your own behavior. Make a point of being sensitive to those impacted by the crisis, including yourself. This is an opportunity to teach your children that we all need to help each other.

Learn more about how you and your family can stay safe and connected during a disaster or crisis. Create an “In Case of Emergency” contact card at our Get Ready. Get Safe. online resource center.

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