Child psychiatrist shares advice for talking to children about Oxford High School shooting from WDIV-TV
December 1, 2021
By Jason Carr
A Southeastern Michigan community is mourning the lives of three teenagers who were shot and killed Tuesday by a fellow student at Oxford High School.
A 15-year-old sophomore student is in police custody after opening fire at the high school Tuesday afternoon, fatally striking three students and wounding eight other people.
As the investigation continues and those involved process what happened, most everyone else must grapple with another difficult task: How should we talk to children about school shootings, especially when they take place in our community?
Dr. Tehmina Shakir, a clinical child psychiatrist with Wayne Health, says that parents and caregivers should approach the difficult subject in different ways depending on the child’s age. She says that children respond differently to traumatic events, especially events like the Oxford High School shooting.
For instance, Dr. Shakir says that younger, elementary-aged children may respond to traumatic events by becoming clingy and anxious, and/or they may regress and have trouble sleeping or eating properly.
Older, high-school aged children may respond to experiencing a traumatic event by becoming irritable or rude, or they may isolate themselves to process the situation on their own.
The most important thing, Dr. Shakir says, is ensuring the line of communication is open between the children and the adults during such crises. According to Shakir, when children start communicating, whether it is with their friends or family members or other adults in their lives, they begin to process what happened and make sense of it.