How to talk to your children about violence in the news

CLEVELAND, OH (WOIO) - Turn on any local or national news coverage and chances are, violent images will be visible across the screen. It has become even more difficult to shield children from graphic news because of how accessible televisions or computers are now.

Mass casualty events, such as the recent shooting in Las Vegas, can cause anxiety, stress, and fear for kids if they see it in the media.

Joel Austerman, D.O. of Cleveland Clinic, stresses that parents need to be protectors to their children and need to provide constant reassurance of safety.

"Reassure them that they?re safe, that this is an extremely rare phenomenon to occur and that people go about their daily lives all the time and that you?ll continue to be their parent and protect them,? said Dr. Austerman.

Parents should try to limit the amount of media coverage young children have access to. If a child questions a frightening event, Dr. Austerman said it's usually because they're scared.

Some tips on addressing a potentially devastating event include:

  • Ask children first what they know.
  • Let them lead the conversation.
  • Find out what the children are afraid of or worried about.
  • Explain the situation in simpler terms.
  • Don't overwhelm the child with too much information.

"Typically what I tell parents is to say being angry and solving your anger through violence is not an okay thing to do and that is not our values and you try to tie that to the values and use that as a teachable moment," said Dr. Austerman.

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