It was an extremely busy week in the OHSU press office last week…but not for the right reasons.
We didn’t announce a big science breakthrough or escort press to one of our big holiday celebrations for pediatric patients. Press both called and came to OHSU Hospital as we were the medical center that treated the teenage injured in last week tragic shooting at Clackamas Town Center. Then, just three days later, the phones started ringing endlessly once more as reporters called to search for answers following the tragic events in Connecticut.
Many parents struggle with a big decision in the wake of such incidents: What do we tell our kids and how much info do we share?
Thankfully, several OHSU experts helped us answer this tough question last week. Here were a few tips shared by Doernbecher child psychiatrist Dr. Ajit Jetmalani:
Parents should be aware of their own reactions to these tragedies and attempt to refrain from alarming their children through verbal or non-verbal cues. Children often become concerned about their own safety or the safety of their families upon hearing of tragedies like the ones that occurred this week.
Children often take their parents lead as to how to react. Every child’s reaction is unique to his or her personality, developmental stage and experiences. Create a sense of openness to discussion but avoid pressuring children to talk.
It is important to make sure children understand the events that took place are rare occurrences and that children remain quite safe and secure.
Parents should monitor their children’s time watching TV and make sure they are not overly exposed to tragedies such as these. News reports are too fast for kids to absorb. In addition, children process this type of information much differently than adults and think of the personal impacts more often than adults do.
The Portland Tribune’s story provides more guidance to parents who could use it.