Talking With Kids About Violence In Schools

By: Paige Lambrecht
By: Paige Lambrecht

From an attempted attack in Green Bay to the shooting at Weston high school to deadly incidents in Colorado and Pennsylvania.

This recent wave of school violence doesn't surprise many experts, who say media coverage of one shooting can often encourage copy cats.

"In a way, showing this negative emotional reaction may also spur on kids who are looking for some kind of redemption or revenge."

Joanne Cantor is a UW professor who specializes in how kids deal with frightening images they see in the media.

And while coverage of the Weston high school shooting is hard to avoid, she says it's better your kids learn about it from you than the TV.

"These are rare events but when they do happen they're really frightening and it's important not to overreact to them emotionally in front of your kids."

Cantor says convincing a child that this won't happen at their school doesn't work.

"Unfortunately research shows that telling somebody that something's rare, is not very reassuring to a child. It's more reassuring to have a plan."

That means going over a school safety plan with your kids, and teaching them to take threats seriously and tell an adult.

A teenager doing just that managed to thwart a school attack in Green Bay; but all too often, it's the violence that isn't stopped that makes headlines.

"It makes what might be a small incident a national tragedy."

Cantor also warns against media saturation.

Limit what your child is watching on TV, what video games they're playing and what websites they're visiting.

A constant assault of violent images, over time, can desensitize kids.

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