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Health experts address tough conversations with kids about Texas shooting

Many western Massachusetts families are having tough conversations with their children following Tuesday’s deadly school shooting in Texas.
Updated: May. 25, 2022 at 5:00 PM EDT
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SPRINGFIELD, MA (WGGB/WSHM) - Many western Massachusetts families are having tough conversations with their children following Tuesday’s deadly school shooting in Texas.

While this is an unimaginable tragedy, health experts we spoke to on Wednesday said it’s important for parents to talk to their children truthfully about the events that unfolded.

“…But we need to ensure that children, which are our future, are safe,” said Mass. Secretary of Health and Human Services Marylou Sudders.

Sudders reacted to the tragedy on Wednesday in Springfield and told Western Mass News that, as a country, lawmakers have not taken action to keep children safe following the deadly school shooting in Newtown, CT.

“Nothing has changed at the congressional level. Massachusetts has some of the strongest gun safety laws in the United States and so that’s something we should feel good about in our state,” Sudders noted.

The question of mental health always comes up after mass shootings. Sudders said resources need to be provided at an early age.

“I think that’s where we should start is in early childhood in our school system and how children behave and act and if we see a child struggling, we need to intervene in a positive way and not wait until an awful event occurs,” Sudders added.

Meanwhile, families across our area are faced with tough conversations at home. Dr. Barry Sarvet, chair of psychiatry at Baystate Health, told us while the discussions may be hard, it is important to address the school shooting with your children and the emotions anyone may be feeling.

“I think it’s appropriate to be honest about their feelings, about what is happening, the need from our society to do something about this. I think we have to be careful to not normalize anymore than it’s already been normalized,” Sarvet said.

In light of the shooting, some children may be scared to go to school, Sarvet said it’s important to reassure your kids that the classroom is a safe space.

“The statistical probability that on a given day there is going to be a school shooting on their school is really negligible,” Sarvet explained.

Sudders said conversations about violence and mass shootings need to be ongoing and, as a country, we need to continue working to keep our children safe in school.