Ways to Support Children Affected by Trauma from Kansas City Super Bowl Parade Shooting

To begin with, experts recommend reintegrating children into school as a first step. Following trauma, establishing routines is crucial.

According to child health specialists, the recent shooting that resulted in a mother’s death and multiple children being injured at the end of Kansas City’s Chiefs’ championship celebration is likely to have left children traumatized, whether they were physically at Union Station or simply learned about the incident.

Reacting swiftly, schools made social workers and counselors immediately accessible on Thursday and provided guidance to parents on assisting children to readjust to normalcy and security.

Experts emphasize the importance of allowing some children to express their concerns, although it’s crucial to strike a balance to avoid fixating excessively on the incident or forcing discussions that could have negative outcomes.

The violence on Wednesday followed a concerning increase in mental health issues stemming from the pandemic, as noted by Dr. Shayla Sullivant, a child and adolescent psychiatrist at Children’s Mercy Hospital, who highlighted the doubling rates of anxiety and depression among young individuals.

Several school districts informed The Beacon that they are resorting to familiar strategies, such as promptly resuming school operations, to help instill calmness following a crisis.

When confronted with disaster, “it comes from a place that we didn’t expect, and we don’t know how to deal with that,” said David Smith, a spokesperson for the Shawnee Mission School District, emphasizing the importance of reinstating familiarity and routine to reassure individuals, particularly children, that a sense of safety is being restored.

Recognizing the significance of adults’ well-being, Smith stressed the importance for parents and teachers to acknowledge and seek assistance for their own distress in order to effectively support children.

The recent shooting at Union Station was described as a “community-level trauma” by Damon Daniel, president of the Ad Hoc Group Against Crime, underscoring the need to engage with professionals rather than resorting to isolation, substance abuse, or further violence to cope.

Chris Williams, a counselor at Heartland Therapy Connection, suggested that the Union Station incident might permanently alter individuals’ perceptions of public spaces, particularly impacting teenagers and young adults who are likely to become more vigilant and apprehensive.

Kansas City Public Schools Superintendent Jennifer Collier advised parents to directly address the trauma with their children, emphasizing the importance of being proactive in responding to older students’ queries.

Emphasizing the need for one-on-one support, experts recommend parents to be attentive for any disruptions in routines following the Super Bowl parade, ranging from sleep disturbances to changes in behavior.

Regarding exposure to gun violence, Starsky Wilson, president of the Children’s Defense Fund, highlighted the long-term psychological impact it can have on children, potentially leading to substance abuse, depression, and anxiety.

This story was compiled by Scott Canon with contributions from Suzanne King.

This article first appeared on The Beacon and is republished here under a Creative Commons license.

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