WASHINGTON, D.C., April 9—Following the stabbing of at least 20 people at Franklin Regional Senior High School in Murrysville, Pennsylvania, American Humane Association issued these tips for parents and other caregivers to help children cope with the fear and uncertainty caused by this tragedy:
Keep an eye on children's emotional reactions. Talk to children – and just as important – listen to them. Encourage kids to express how they feel and ask if anything is worrying them.
Regardless of age, reassure them frequently of their safety and security, and reinforce that you, local officials, and their communities are working to keep them safe. Older children may seem more capable, but can also be affected.
Keep your descriptions to children simple and limit their exposure to graphic information. Keep to the basic facts that something bad happened but that they are safe.
Limit their access to television and radio news reports since young children may have trouble processing the enormity of the experience, and sometimes believe that each news report may be a new attack.
Be prepared for children to ask if such violence can occur to them. Do not lie but repeat that it is very unlikely and that you, their teachers, and school staff are there to keep them safe.
Watch for symptoms of stress, including clinginess, stomachaches, headaches, nightmares, trouble eating or sleeping, or changes in behavior.
If you are concerned about the way your children are responding, consult your doctor, school counselor or local mental health professional.
"Our hearts go out to the community of Murrysville following this unspeakable tragedy," said Dr. Robin Ganzert, president and CEO of American Humane Association. "We wish a speedy recovery for those who were treated for their injuries. Children can be especially vulnerable during a time like this, particularly given that the stabbings took place in a school. The best thing to do is to talk to children now and in the weeks to come to ensure they receive the attention they need in dealing with this tragedy."
About American Humane Association
Since 1877 the historic American Humane Association has been at the forefront of virtually every major advance in protecting children, pets and farm animals from cruelty, abuse and neglect. Today we're also leading the way in understanding human-animal interaction and its role in society. As the nation's voice for the protection of children and animals, American Humane Association reaches millions of people every day through groundbreaking research, education, training and services that span a wide network of organizations, agencies and businesses. You can help make a difference, too. Visit American Humane Association at www.americanhumane.org today.