Helping communities after a shooting or terrorism

Maggie Kline, LMFT School Psychologist & Therapist, shares advice for parents on the best way to help your children and community overcome a shooting or act of terrorism
How To Help Kids & Communities After A Shooting Or Terrorism
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Helping communities after a shooting or terrorism

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Maggie Kline: After an attack, a drive by shooting or something terrible, like what happened in Connecticut, it's very important that you focus on how the child can feel safe. For example, children will say they don’t want to go to school because they don’t feel safe. And you might ask questions like well, who or what at school helps you to feel safe when you are there? If parents are freaking out, and they’re saying oh don’t worry, I’m not going to send you to school because it’s too frightening and they cling on to their child and hold them tight and say you’re not safe. Any place. So mom is going to keep you home from school until this whole thing blows over. That’s not healthy. You want to explain to your child, first of all, that’s rare. It’s very unlikely that’s going to happen in their school. It’s not that it’s impossible but that school is taking precautions to make sure that never happens. And you can ask them who makes them feel safe. So I was actually talking to a mother after the Connecticut massacre because the children in Long beach where I live were very affected even though it's on another coast. And the one mom said, she asked her son, what makes her feel safe and she goes, there’s this really fat security guard at my school. He always sits at the gate. And he doesn’t look like he could run very fast but he has a gun and he also makes sure that the gates are always locked. And that nobody gets to come in without passing by him and showing him an ID. So the security guard makes me feel safe. And then she said, and how do you know you feel safe when you feel safe? Where do you feel that, internally? And he said usually my belly settles and I feel okay. Very different than a parent telling their child that that might happen to them too and they’re not going to send them to school until the entire thing is out of the papers because the mother’s frightened or the father’s frightened also. It’s very important to help them to see the reality of this is a rare occasion and that in the olden days they didn’t even show this in the newspaper or on television. Also to do blackout with the television and not let young children watch this on the news or listen on the radio. It’s hard enough for adults to hear this kind of news. So one of the biggest things that you could do is don’t expose your children to the news.

Maggie Kline, LMFT School Psychologist & Therapist, shares advice for parents on the best way to help your children and community overcome a shooting or act of terrorism

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Maggie Kline, LMFT

School Psychologist & Therapist

Maggie Kline has been a marriage, family, and child therapist for almost 30 years, and is a retired school psychologist.  After beginning her professional career as a teacher in 1970, Maggie has continued to garner vast experience with children of all ages from pre-schoolers through teens. She uses Somatic Experiencing (SE) with individuals, couples and families in psychotherapy. She also integrates SE with art, dream work and play when helping youngsters recover from trauma. Maggie is a senior faculty member for the SE Trauma Institute, currently teaching on five continents. She has co-authored two books (listed below) with Peter A. Levine which have been translated into 11 languages,  and has also written "It Won't Hurt Forever", which was published in Mothering  Magazine in 2002.  Most recently, Maggie has originated two seminars for professionals who help traumatized children:  "SE for Kids, A Games-Based Approach" and "Conscious Connections, Providing Reparative Opportunities for Healthy Attachment". She has presented her work in schools and agencies, at conferences, and in mass disaster settings such as the Southeast Asian Tsunami and the Oslo Massacre.

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