Talking to children about mass shootings isn't easy, but here's how you can get through it together

Doctors said though it may be challenging, it's important for parents to start the conversation.

Denise Dador Image
Tuesday, January 24, 2023 6:21PM
How parents can help children get through stress of mass shootings
EMBED <>More Videos

As the Monterey Park community tries to pick up the pieces after one of the deadliest mass shootings in recent history, one might forget how much children are reeling from this as well. So how can adults can get this conversation started?

MONTEREY PARK, Calif. (KABC) -- As the Monterey Park community tries to pick up the pieces after one of the deadliest mass shootings in recent history, one might forget how much children are reeling from this as well.

So how can adults can get this conversation started?

"This is a difficult kind of question that you and I are grappling with as adults," said Dr. Jena Lee, the director of Emergency Pediatric Psychiatry at UCLA Health.

Lee said though it may be challenging, it's important for parents to start the conversation.

"If it's difficult for you to initiate, imagine how much more difficult it is for your child to initiate without that modeling," said Lee.

Lee said don't worry about not being able to answer all their questions - just be prepared to acknowledge how your kids feel and give them a safe space to express what they're thinking.

WATCH: How mass shootings impact mental health: What drives a shooter's actions?

"It's not about giving them the right answers, but we could actually say, 'I don't know' and agree with them," said Lee. "It is hard, and we can't understand why people make decisions like this, and it's scary."

The celebration of Lunar New Year and its symbolism for a fresh new start makes Saturday's tragedy even more personal for many Asian American families.

"It's a tragedy that requires us to come together and to remind our children that we have each other, even when such an important holiday is, in a sense, kind of injured with everything that it represents," said Lee.

She acknowledges that within various Asian cultures, sharing how one feels isn't always the norm. However, at times like this, Lee can't stress enough the importance of finding someone to talk with.

Parents need to support each other so they can support their kids.

"The best way you can actually make your child safe and actually protect them is by making sure they know they can come to you and talk about anything with you," said Lee.

Meanwhile, the Langley Senior Citizen Center on Emerson Avenue in Monterey Park has turned into a crisis response center with the help of state and federal agencies for families and friends.

On Sunday afternoon, officials told Eyewitness News about five families have stopped by to speak with counselors to get support.

"It was comforting and just cathartic just to talk about it because, in between my husband and I, we didn't really process it too much, so it was good for us," said Monterey Park resident Lenora Hall.

In addition, GoFundMe has launched a hub of verified fundraisers to help and is continually being updated with verified accounts.

You can donate via the Monterey Park Shooting: How To Help hub.

The link stretches across all social media channels and encourages donations to victims and their families to who need help.