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Local health experts encourage parents to talk to their kids following Uvalde shooting

Texas School Shooting
Jae C. Hong
Associated Press
A state trooper escorts a group of family onto the campus of Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, Wednesday, May 25, 2022. Desperation turned to heart-wrenching sorrow for families of grade schoolers killed after an 18-year-old gunman barricaded himself in their Texas classroom and began shooting, killing at least 19 fourth-graders and their two teachers.

Experts say mental health should be a priority for parents following the tragic school shooting in Uvalde on Tuesday.

Fort Worth-based Cook Children’s Healthcare System held a virtual conference on Wednesday to address how parents can speak to their kids about tragic events.

Lisa Elliot, a psychologist with Cook Children’s Behavioral Health Clinic in Denton said it's better to directly address the tragedy rather than avoid it.

"Be willing to start that conversation even if they don't" Elliot said. "Your child needs to know that you want to know how they are how you're how the child is coping how that you care about them.”

Elliott said children may experience anxiety and depression after a traumatic event.

“Always be truthful because they're going to test that. They need that foundation of trust," Elliot said. "Answer questions that fit them both from an age perspective, but as well as a developmental perspective.”

She said parents should also limit their kids’ exposure to news and social media to avoid secondary trauma.

Daniel Guzman, director of the Aim for Safety program with Cook Children’s Healthcare System, works to reduce gun injuries among children.

Guzman said instilling kids with a sense of hope can also help them deal with tragedies like the school shooting in Uvalde.

"All they're going to take from that is negative and we need to balance that with some positive things," Guzman said. "Frame that in a way that there are people that were there to help and it's not always about the bad person."

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