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How to talk to your kids about school shootings

Kacey Drescher/KCOY Photo

SANTA MARIA, Calif. - Images of kids with their hands up, running in panic is a scenario we sadly know all too well. Few events hit home for children and families like a school shooting.

Experts say it's important to make kids feel safe and validate their feelings and police encourage parents to keep an eye on their kid's social media behavior.

As detectives investigate rumors that the Saugus High shooter may have posted threats on social media, Santa Maria Police highlight why it’s so important to take every threat seriously. 

“It generally kicks off a long investigative process, on average 10-12 hours,” said Lt. Russ Mengel, Santa Maria Police Department. 

Lt. Russ Mengel says the FBI gets involved and police work quickly to determine the individual’s story and their access to weapons.

“It’s something we’re always looking at. Just last week we were meeting with other law enforcement agencies here on the Central Coast talking about what we can do better how to work with our school districts better,” said Lt. Mengel. 

As community leaders drive the conversation forward, child advocates say it’s important to create an open dialogue with our kids that is lead by the child.

“If you ask a child ‘was that scary for you?’ That assumes an emotion in that interaction, where if you ask a child, ‘how was that for you?’ You’re letting the child share whatever experience they’re having,” said Yvonne Nelson, Calm North County Regional Manager.  

Calm’s North County Regional Manager says children often mirror our responses. “We live in a different era and children are living with different realities than maybe we grew up with,” Nelson explained. 

Nelson says it’s important to focus on safety and prevention rather than danger.

“Talking about normalizing that it's part of what the school is doing in order to keep the child safe. Just like a fire drill, just like an earthquake drill, this is something the school does because sometimes people come on campus that aren’t supposed to be there and we want to make sure the school is a safe place for you,” said Nelson. 

Nelson says we don't want kids to panic because we want them to know what to do if faced with a stressful situation and having a routine can make a child feel safe.

Article Topic Follows: Safety
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saugus high school
school shooting

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Kacey Drescher


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