WILMINGTON, N.C. (WECT) – A crisis intervention line was set up for students and families at New Hanover High School to call after Monday’s shooting.
“We’ve had quite a few students that have called and they’ve been expressing their fear of returning to school, some students are in shock of what happened yesterday because some were very close to the incident and they witnessed what happened,” said Leslie Wilder, New Hanover County’s clinical therapist supervisor.
The emotional and mental health trauma stemming from that tense situation is just emerging.
“So, a variety of responses from the students have come in. We’ve also had some parents that have called in wanting to how to support their students, how to support their kids moving forward,” said Wilder.
Touching on tough subjects like a school shooting can be tough for parents. LaTecia Burden, school-based services coordinator at Coastal Horizons said it’s critical that help starts at home. Parents can begin that conversation with a three-step process:
- Praise: “Encompassed by validating what happened yesterday was traumatic, it was scary,” Burden said. In addition, it’s important to normalize the fearful and anxious reactions that students are immediately having.
- Process: “Understand that sometimes it can be difficult for kids to pick the right words, like I’m anxious, or I’m scared, or I’m afraid, so sometimes it might be helpful to ask kids what they might be feeling in their body,” said Burden. This step ultimately starts with the parents and understanding how they feel about the situation before processing the event with their child.
- Prepare: “It’s so important to make sure that we’ve identified who the support staff is at your school, because sometimes immediately there’s a crisis team and a lot of people at the school, but even once that big presence of support goes away, to understand that there’s still support there, and how do I access that and what does it look like?” said Burden. Many students might not have an immediate desire to process Monday’s events, so it’s important that parents pay attention to their child’s behavior in the coming weeks and take note of any changes, as that might be a sign that the event is starting to impact them.
All are important tips to remember if you are struggling with talking to your children about Monday’s events, and experts say it’s important to listen too. “To talk about it, to not be afraid to talk about what they’ve experienced, what they’re feeling, what their worries and concerns are,” said Wilder. “I don’t think it’s helpful not to talk about it, and so we want parents to provide a safe space for their students to feel like they can share.”
To find on-campus support staff for your child, click here.
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