Monday, December 17, 2012
Could it happen here? - Talking to your kids about tragedy and their safety
You hear the description of the quaint small town and easily think to yourself - that sounds like my community. When I told my ten year old son about the tragedy of the school shooting he understood it was a random extremely violent act yet he asked the question “Could it happen here, Mom?”
By now your children know about the horrific tragedy. I hope you have viewed advice as how to handle the questions your child poses about the shooting. But questions may come later and they may show fear of separation from home or parents. This will be an evolving process. Give simple and direct answers to your child’s questions. Ask them how they are doing and let them know you are going to protect them and be there for them.
The events of public shootings are growing but still are so random and unpredictable. First responders such as police, fire and emergency response are trained to handle these situations. Schools have security systems and staff are trained how to protect their students. We parents are responsible for the safety of our children. We need to have a fire safety plan for our home and have three days of supplies stored in case of emergency in our community. I propose you create an emergency plan with your family for when you are outside the house. What is your plan if you are out in a shopping mall and an emergency occurs? How do you find each other if apart? Where do they go for safety? Discuss these scenarios with your family. It will not cause fear for the child as they will know they have a plan and that you are protecting them.
The debate on gun control needs to be brought to the forefront. People who do these acts are mentally unstable and need help from a health system that is not able to put more funds into this important area of healthcare. The intent of this post is not to make statements on what our country needs to do to prevent these shootings and the escalating violence. But I do ask for you as a parent and concerned citizen to speak to your congressman or representative about your thoughts on a safe community. These issues will definitely be addressed in the coming weeks to months.
Finally – please continue to pray for the community of Newtown. They and other communities such as Aurora, Colorado, Brookfield, Wisconsin, and Clakamas, Oregon need to know others are praying for their healing.
Dr. Lisa Gold is a pediatrician practicing in Crown Point, Indiana, at the Franciscan Physician Network - Crown Point Pediatric Health Center.