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August 2nd, 2012

After the Colorado Shootings: Kids Ask, Are the Movies Safe?

We are in the midst of yet another American tragedy. Many children and teens have heard about the movie theater shootings in Aurora Colorado that left 12 people dead, 58 wounded, hundreds psychologically wounded, and countless families dealing with the tragic aftermath.

After this horrific shooting, many young people may wonder,
Are the movies safe?
• Can I get shot too?
• Are my parents safe if they go to the movies?

A nationwide tragedy can trigger anxiety in children and teens even if they have no direct knowledge of the victims. These youngsters could have bad dreams, want to be near their parents and have lots of frightening scenarios in their minds. They may be afraid to go to a movie theater or other public places. Some adults feel this way too.

What can parents do to minimize fears in young people, who are more vulnerable to frightening information? First, limit your child’s exposure to terrifying news on television and the computer. Repeatedly hearing and seeing about tragedy intensifies fear. Second, if your child asks questions about the Colorado shootings or shows behavioral signs of avoiding movies and public places, a few words about probability may be helpful. Yes it’s true this terrible occurrence happened. However, the chances of it happening are very small. Finally, letting young people know that just because bad things happen in this world, doesn’t mean it will happen to them or someone they love.

Children and teens still need protection, regardless of how blasé they sometimes act. A parent can mention that after the Colorado tragedy, many trained professionals such as the police, rescue workers as well as doctors and nurses acted in a speedy and remarkable way. Their actions saved lives. Kids need to hear information about people who can protect them in addition to the few who do harm.

If you would like further information about anxiety in children following tragic situations, you may find these Tool Kits for Kids posts additionally helpful:

What Does Popcorn Have to Do with Anxiety?
Violence In the Schools: Helping Kids with Its Emotional Impact
Searing Images of the Disaster in Japan Scare Children Worldwide