Continuous mass shootings have impact on children's mental well being, experts say

ByTim Johns KGO logo
Tuesday, March 28, 2023
Experts offer guidance on how to talk to kids about mass shootings
As we learn more details of the Nashville school shooting, experts say it's important for parents to have conversations with kids about the topic.

SAN FRANCISCO -- On Monday, a 28-year-old shooter killed three adults and three 9-year-old students at the Covenant School in Nashville, Tennessee.

But as authorities piece together the details, mental health experts say the continued violence is having real impacts on our children.

RELATED: 6 dead, including 3 kids, in Nashville school shooting; 28-year-old shooter dead

At least three children and three adults were shot and killed following an active shooter incident at a Nashville, Tennessee, school.

"Of course they do. They're watching on their iPhones, they're experiencing it in the classroom. It's affecting them, and we can't protect kids from all the media," said Dr. Michael Enenbach of the Child Mind Institute.

Psychologists say as mass shootings have risen over the years, and it's important for parents to have conversations with their children about the topic.

This is especially true, says Dr. Andrea Zorbas, if kids are showing signs of struggling with the news.

"It can look like challenges with focusing in school, a kid being easily distracted, being more emotional than they usually are, acting out in any way," Zorbas said.

Nashville school shooting: What to know about the 6 victims

Zorbas says how you approach that conversation also depends on factors such as your child's age.

"You're going to want to be empathetic and acknowledge that they're scared or they're anxious or worried. Whatever words they use. Or you can help them label their emotions," she said.

But it's not just children that mass shootings have an effect on.

Parents too can suffer from things like PTSD and anxiety, Zorbas says, and worry about their kids when they're in the classroom.

TAKE ACTION: Get help with improving our schools

"The best thing people can do is not to hold it in, but to talk about it. And talk about it with those who are both like-minded and not like-minded. So that way you can process everything that's happening," Zorbas said.

Something that was on full display in Nashville Monday afternoon, when a survivor of a mass shooting from last summer interrupted a news conference to express her frustration.

"My heart broke. This is where we're at. We have children living through multiple mass shooting incidences. What are we doing?" said Ashbey Beasley.

WATCH: Highland Park survivor calls for change after Nashville school shooting

Highland Park mass shooting survivor Ashbey Beasley was on vacation in Nashville when the Covenant School shooting happened.
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