LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) — A safety expert is sharing tips to help parents and caregivers talk to children about violence in the wake of this week’s deadly mass shootings.
President of Safe Kids, Inc., Adam Coughran, promotes having age-appropriate conversations early.
“The younger, the better,” Coughran said.
“Look at kindergartners and first-graders and the plan starts with: there are people who hurt and people who help,” he explained. “Start the conversation that there might be harmful people in the world and if a harmful person find us, here’s what we should do.”
Having an honest conversation through storytelling, he says, can sometimes help.
“Talk about those harmful people and helpful people and understand that not everyone in the world might be helpful and relate it to things they are used to — maybe villains and superhero stories, other stories that they’ve read — and start to piece together the story,” he continued, encouraging: “Be sensitive to their fears what they’re telling you.”
Coughran encourages caregivers to make clear plans and remain vigilant.
“When were out and about, whether at the mall or movie theater or a restaurant, be aware of loud noises and be aware of what they call the ‘jitters in the crowd.’ We are hearing stories about kids running to the mall yelling, ‘Active shooter!’ and number of adults didn’t really take them that seriously at first until they saw more and more people coming. So be aware. Listen to what’s going on,” he said. “Have a plan somewhere near the area to go to and unify.”
And, he says, give kids “permission” to “break the rules.”
“Kids are bound by rules all the time: ‘Don’t run in the hallway,’ ‘Don’t go outside the fence.’ So we look at: what are the times to break the rules? When might it be OK to run? And run to someone else’s house or into a store without you. It’s OK to give our kids permission to do things in an emergency might not normally do and give them permission to listen to their bodies. Their body is telling them to run or hide or do something to get them out of that scenario and let them know it’s okay ,” he said. “And that mom and dad the rest of their family will find them.”