Coping with fear in wake of school shootings

Published: Aug. 10, 2022 at 9:13 AM EDT

ARLINGTON, Texas, Aug. 10, 2022 /PRNewswire/ -- In a nation still reeling from the tragic Uvalde school shooting, the return to school may leave some children grappling with anxiety.

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Navigating Back-to-School Fears in the Wake of Uvalde Shooting

Two therapists with Texas Health Resources offer tips for helping children cope.

  • Create a safe space to discuss their fears, safety and how to manage those fears

Teach children the importance of "see something, say something" – telling a trusted adult if they hear or see something that doesn't feel safe, said Renee´ Breazeale, administrator of Texas Health Recovery and Wellness Center. Because fear and anxiety may ebb and flow throughout the school year, check in regularly with your children about concerns they may be experiencing.

  • Don't minimize the risk

Validate your child's concerns and fears but remember their brain is still developing and they are looking for reassurance and stability. Help them create a safety plan for any number of situations that feels accessible, age-appropriate and that the child would realistically feel comfortable doing.

"Educate your child like you would educate them for a natural disaster," said Christina Thomas, an inpatient adolescent therapist at Texas Health Springwood Behavioral Health Hurst-Euless-Bedford. "We talk to our children about what to do if there is a fire or a tornado. The goal is not to instill fear; the goal is to instill awareness."

  • Limit and monitor exposure to social media

Consider parental controls that can help limit what younger children are exposed to on social media or through other platforms.

  • Consider seeking professional help

If your child continues to show high levels of anxiety, becomes isolated or has changes in their sleep, appetite, mood and focus, consider seeking professional help. Texas Health offers free behavioral health assessments. To schedule an assessment, visit the Texas Health website or call 682-626-8719.

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About Texas Health Resources:  

Texas Health Resources is a faith-based, nonprofit health system that cares for more patients in North Texas than any other provider. With a service area that consists of 16 counties and more than 7 million people, the system is committed to providing quality, coordinated care through its Texas Health Physicians Group and 29 hospital locations. The system has more than 4,100 licensed hospital beds, 6,400 physicians with active staff privileges and more than 26,000 employees.

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SOURCE Texas Health Resources

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