School psychologist: Talking to kids about shooting tragedy

Posted at 6:09 PM, Dec 14, 2012
and last updated 2012-12-15 01:31:36-05

Speaking with children about tragedies such as the school shooting in Newtown, Conn. can be very difficult.

The most important thing is make time to talk to students about what happened and to reassure them of their safety, said Dr. Lane Valum, a school psychologist with the Canyons School District. He said it is important to allow the kids to direct the conversation.

"Parents would do better maybe not to provide a lot of new information, but can seek out initially from their children 'what have you heard, what have you seen, what's on your mind?'" said Dr. Valum.

He said it is also important for adults to be mindful of their actions because kids pick up on the cues and mirror similar emotions.

Children are often more concerned about how the news relates to them and their general safety and not the details of a news event, said Dr. Valum.

Additionally, Canyons School District is continually working on their disaster response efforts to ensure students are safe at school.

Earlier this year, the district conducted a large-scale shooting drill at Alta High School.

"We constantly drill, our schools, our elementaries, they drill every month, they evacuate the building, they shelter in place, they do lock-downs. So we are totally committed to drills and training and making Canyons better," said Kevin Ray, risk management coordinator, Canyons School District.