INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — Kids are heading back to school this week amidst a country in mourning over two mass shootings –one in El Paso, Texas, and another in Dayton, Ohio — that killed 31 people over the weekend.
The El Paso shooting that killed 22 people happened at a Walmart where many families were doing back-to-school shopping.
Central Indiana is about two hours away from Dayton, where a shooting killed nine people in a popular nightlife area early Sunday morning.
Mathias Beier, associate professor of pastoral theology and mental health counseling at Christian Theological Seminary in Indianapolis, strongly suggests that parents speak with their kids if they fear for their safety.
“They might say that they don’t feel like going to school or have a more depressed mood, or they might be more quiet than usual after this happened,” Beier said.
According to Beier, it’s not uncommon for children to think of the possibilities of a tragedy happening locally as a reality.
“We want to reassure kids that basically the world is safe,” said Beier. “The way we create our world here. We cannot do anything about the larger political world out there.”
Beier believes that mental health issues are not the only problems leading to these tragedies, adding it can have an impact on children who suffer with mental health issues.
“They might need to be held, they might need to have hugs and be reassured you know, ‘I love you.’ That’s really important,” he said.
Beier also said that bullying is a common factor that could lead to violence at school and recommends parents talk with their kids.
“Among friends, you can point out, you know, ‘That wasn’t cool what you did’ and to not reward that behavior,” Beier said.
If your child’s behavior of anxiety and fear continues, he recommends speaking with a counselor.