Helping kids cope and feel safe in wake of recent police shootings

As many adults are feeling fearful or hopeless, it can be worse for children who've seen the week's events online or social media.

Experts say if and how parents can help their kids, depends on their age.

With social media how it is today, even younger kids can catch glimpses of the violence in the street.

Parents can help kids by shielding them and reassuring them of their safety.

Recent events, such as Thursday night's ambush on Dallas police, and the shooting of two black men by police officers is horrifying to most adults. For children, the news can be even more scary and confusing.

Shari Botwin is a licensed clinical social worker. She specializes in helping people cope with trauma.

"I think what it does is it makes kids feel like the world we live in is no longer safe," she said.

She says for young kids 5 and under, don't let them see graphic images.

"Turn it off, don't put on the TV. If my 5-year-old walks in the room, I shut the TV off," she said.

That's more difficult to do with older kids on mobile devices and tablets.

So for school-aged kids, Botwin says explain what happened but leave out details.

"Maybe just say there is some bad stuff that happens in the world but that doesn't mean it is going to happen to you or someone you know and reassure them that we do everything we can to keep you safe," she suggests.

For teenagers, parents may need to limit social media time. Remind them these are isolated events and add balance - meaning highlight the good.

Explain that before Thursday's shooting in Dallas, it was a peaceful protest.

In cities across the nation, people came together, trying to make the world a better place.

And for adults and anyone who has suffered trauma in the past, Botwin says you should also limit the amount of coverage you're watching. Try to stick to your usual routine and focus on the positive.

To learn more about Shari Botwin, CLICK HERE.
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