How to talk to your kids about tragic events following Saugus High School shooting

Many parents may have questions about how best help their children following the tragic shooting at Saugus High School in Santa Clarita that left two students dead and four others injured, including the suspected gunman.

The thinking has changed over the years, about the best way to help kids process these types of situations has changed over the years, according to Dr. Cheryl L. Green, a child and adolescent psychiatrist with Loma Linda University Health.

"What we once thought - going over and over it - was a good thing to do," Dr. Green said. "But now we know that a constant debrief not ideal."

Her advice: Get kids to safety and make them feel secure.

"Get them to into something that feels familiar and comfortable to them."

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Saugus High School sophomore Brooklyn Moreno was in the quad when the first shot rang out Thursday morning.

One of the best things a parent can do is start the conversation, according to the National Child Traumatic Stress Network.

Experts say it's okay to talk about what happened with your child, because not talking about it can make the event even more threatening in your child's mind.

With the dominating reach of social media, they add it's highly unlikely that children and teenagers haven't heard about this.

The experts at NCTSN suggest parents start by asking what their child or teen has already heard and listen for misinformation or underlying concerns as they explain.

Patience is also key. While teens may not openly ask for your guidance, they will want it.

"Just provide a lot of love and support, that's the best thing parents can do," Dr. Green adds.
And what about adults who are struggling with their own fears and anxiety?

"What we recommend: Just being as real as possible. Be as real as possible," she said. "If you're feeling a lot of very strong emotions and you're feeling a rush of empathy for the children who are injured - show that to your kids. That is a normal response. It's traumatizing."

She said parents have to be honest about what's happening, and how they're feeling.

"The only way these feelings can be dealt with, is if they're expressed openly and honestly. Let them see your sorrow."
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