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Addressing trauma in children exposed to mass shooting media coverage

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WINONA, Minn. (WXOW) — This weekend’s deadly mass shootings in El Paso and Dayton have triggered a number of conversations in homes across the United States.

It’s been proven that children and adults can experience trauma just from what they’ve seen on television or through social media. That’s why starting the conversation between caregivers and children is so important.

“Encouraging those parents to start the conversation with those kids, so that they recognize that the kids are going to hear about these things somewhere,” said Jen Whetstone, School Mental Health Therapist for Hiawatha Valley Mental Health Center. “If they have access to social media, they’re going to get the information somewhere, so those parents need to have the opportunity to address any misconceptions.”

Hiawatha Valley Mental Health Center provides trauma focused assessments and screenings for children and teenagers. Caregivers can spot signs like lack of sleep, intrusive thoughts, and children discussing a lot about what they’ve seen. Parents or caregivers can help by simply talking with their children or seeking out professional help.

“Concerns about whether or not this is going to happen somewhere where I am, and if those things come up in conversation with kids, it’s often them wondering about what is the likelihood of this happening, and so it’s important to address those fears with kids,” said Whetstone.

Children look to their parents and guardians to regulate, so it’s important for caregivers to address the concerns and worries of their children. More importantly, parents need to address their concerns by talking with other adults or a professional.

Hiawatha Valley uses trauma focused cognitive behavioral therapy. It is one of the most proven practices in helping people get through traumatic experiences. They can do sessions in their building or on site.

If you or someone you know is experiencing a mental health crisis, you can call 1-844-CRISIS2. You can find more about Hiawatha Valley Mental Health Center by visiting their website

Mike Beiermeister

WXOW Weekend Anchor and Reporter

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