EYEWITNESS NEWS (WBRE/WYOU) — Sadness and grief overwhelm Uvalde, Texas, and the nation following another mass shooting at an elementary school. Tuesday’s shooting claimed 21 lives, including 19 young children. The tragedy is impacting students as well as adults.

The ripple effect is felt here in Northeastern and Central Pennsylvania nearly 2,000 miles away. Mass shootings such as Columbine, Sandy Hook, Parkland, and now Uvalde, can cause emotional trauma for children, and force parents to face a difficult subject: talking to kids about violence.

The heartbreaking images coming from Robb Elementary School force us to face something that’s painfully all too familiar.

“It’s just very tragic that again, that we are going through such a senseless shooting where children and adults have been, have lost their lives,” said Dr. Jeffery Kile, MD, Pediatrician, PAK Pediatrics.

Tragedies like this can be traumatic for adults. Imagine what it’s like for children. If you think they don’t know about it, you may want to think again.

“They can get their information from many different sources from friends, from family members, from social media, from the tv so it’s all over the place. So, it’s important that we do recognize that children do know what’s going on and then try to handle that accordingly,” Dr. Kile stated.

Dr. Kile says it’s important to check in with your children but check your emotions first.

“We can’t end up being an emotional mess and not portraying too much of our anxiety to the children because that can make things worse,” said Dr. KIle.

To start the conversation, Dr. Kile recommends asking your child what they’ve already heard or seen.

“And in small children, it’s answering those questions in concrete answers because that’s what they want. Maybe saying something bad happened and some people were hurt. That might be all you have to say to a small child. To older children, tweens, and teens, you probably have to get a little bit more specific about it to understand how they are looking at things,” Dr. Kile stated.

Above all, Dr. Kile stresses how important it is to diffuse your child’s personal fears.

“And I think it’s really important first and foremost no matter what age group that we’re dealing with, that we tell our children to make them understand that they’re safe and that we want them to be safe and that people are actively helping them to be safe whether it be the parents, the caregivers, the policemen, the firemen. We’re all working to have a safe environment for our children,” Dr. Kile stated.

Something this 13-year-old already grasps.

When Eyewitness News asked if he was scared this would happen at his school, A.J. Stout says, “No, because they don’t usually just let anyone in. They have cameras to look at you as well.”

Dr. Kile says to watch for changes in your child’s behavior adding that sometimes children suffer alone.
If symptoms persist over time, it’s a signal they may need professional help.