Berks County Medical Society Medical Record Summer 2018 - 22

m E d i C a l r E C o r d F E at u r E

Tragedy in Florida:
Tips for talking
to children about
school shootings

BY TERRI A. ERBACHER, PH.D.
CLINICAL ASSOCIATE PROFESSOR, PHILADELPHIA COLLEGE OF OSTEOPATHIC MEDICINE
( Courtesy of Chester County Medical Society, Chester County Medicine )

W

e are faced with yet another school shooting in Florida
with at least 17 dead and many injured, including
both staff and students. Our heart goes out to the
victims and their families as losing a child or family member in
this manner is unimaginable. Social media is already running
rampant as parents, schools, and children are fearful and wonder
what they could (or should) do if they ever find themselves in a
similar situation. As school shootings seem to be increasing in
frequency, these conversations are becoming more necessary.

Social Media
During a critical incident, such as a school shooting, children
are understandably on their phones. In Florida, some children
were texting loving messages to family members. While that
is understandable, it is important to have conversations with
children about what not to do. For example, explain to children
that posting videos of those who are injured can be devastating
to families who don't yet know that perhaps their own child is
injured or even dead.
Further, posting graphic images increases the traumatizing
potential for other children. There is no reason to unnecessarily
expose others to the violence. In the same light, it is important for
parents to monitor what your children are watching and to limit
viewing of horrific events. Vicarious traumatization is real and
can happen by viewing too many graphic images online. As this
is also true for adults, take this opportunity to model behavior by
restricting your own viewing of potentially traumatizing pictures
and videos.

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Berks County Medical Society Medical Record Summer 2018

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