HJAR Sep/Oct 2022

38 SEP / OCT 2022 I  HEALTHCARE JOURNAL OF ARKANSAS POLICY COLUMN POLICY SADLY, mass shootings have become a com- mon occurrence in the United States. Nearly 300 mass shootings occurred in our nation in the first six months of 2022, according to the Gun ViolenceArchive, 1 including one in Dumas, Arkansas., that killed one person and injured 26. While policy debates sur- rounding this problem are ongoing, par- ents should recognize the potential effects of these events on their children. If you are a parent, some informa- tion about these horrific events likely has reached your children — perhaps even infor- mation about shootings of children their age. Understandably, they may be feeling fearful. Talking to your kids about such an agonizing Talking to Kids About Mass Shootings topic can be hard, but it is important to listen to their concerns, answer their questions, offer perspective, and provide support. The American Academy of Pediatrics, of which I am a member, recently issued guide- lines for parents on talking with kids about traumatic news events. 2 In this column, I will share some of the recommendations from that guidance along with my own advice on this difficult but unavoidable aspect of parenting in today’s America. A good way to start is by asking your children what they have already heard. Ask them if they have any questions and if they are concerned. Don’t wait for signs that they are concerned before starting a conversation; children are often good at hid- ing their distress. If you discuss a specific event with your children, give them enough information to understand what happened. Be direct and accurate, and offer as much context as is age-appropriate. You don’t have to assure them that everything is going to be fine. Let them know it is OK to be upset by these things and that it is OK for them to show you that they are concerned or anxious. Let them know that you are here to listen to and sup- port them. Often, the act of listening alone will help ease a child’s concerns. Stick to basic information, avoiding graphic details. Try to keep your children