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How to Handle Fear After a School Shooting, From a Mom Who Worries Every Day

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Mass shootings in schools instill fear in parents and students, and rightfully so. No parent and no child should ever have to worry about child mortality. With the rate of school shootings recently, for those who have this fear, it never has the chance to fully subside before it rises up again.

• What is PTSD?

As someone who knew the odds were on my son’s life before he was even born, and as someone who’s helped my child  live his life to the fullest, I would like to share what I have learned with other parents on how to cope, how to help their children and how to take action.

It’s OK to be scared. It’s natural to be scared. You have to teach yourself and your child how to handle being scared. This is something I constantly work on, and different things work for different people. Mindfulness, relaxation techniques, working out — find what works for you.

You need to talk about it! Age-appropriate conversations are essential. I’ve told my 6-year-old son how he has a special heart and we need to listen to his doctor as he needs extra care. Schools have emergency drills to address their needs to keep our children safe. Likewise, we can tell our children that if an emergency happens at school, they need to listen to their teacher and do what they practiced. It breaks my heart that this is needed, and the worry of causing undue alarm may set in, but as parents, we can’t leave this to the schools alone. Seeing a unified front is important to our children.

To our kids, the risk of telling on their friends of classmates my override the teaching, “If you see something, say something.” It is critical, however, to help our children understand that it is something they must do if they fear someone they know is going to take violent action. This includes what they see on social media.

I researched cardiologists, hospitals, and pediatricians for my son. Likewise, we can research our local and national government officials, and vote accordingly. Sites such as this can help. Actions speak louder than words.

I joined a support group for parents of children with congenital heart defects and support cardiac research efforts, and it has helped me immensely. Uniting with those who share your concern and want to take action to help prevent mass shootings from happening may help you as well. I am just venturing into this realm, but Everytown for Gun Safety, Moms Demand Action and Sandy Hook Promise are a few you may want to research.

At a micro-local level, see how you can help support your school system and their budget. Allowing more support for teachers, guidance counselors and psychologists can help them identify those who may be at risk.

I make no claims of being an expert. I am just a mom who worries about my son’s life every day, and I hate to think that millions of other parents are now doing the same thing.

Getty image via sakkmesterke

Originally published: February 23, 2018
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