Family, doctors encourage dialogue on effects of mass shootings

Kent County

CEDAR SPRINGS, Mich. (WOOD) — Members of the Oxford family pride themselves on their ability to discuss anything, especially the tragic, deadly shootings in El Paso and Dayton.

“Our kids know that they can come and talk to us at any point,” Lori Oxford said.

The mass shootings paralyzed Lori’s oldest daughter, Tatum, with fear and anxiety. Tatum said she goes to mom and dad for help to ease the pain.

“It just feels like it can happen at any moment,” she said.

Tatum says she now questions her own safety in public. Her dad, Frank, understands.

“These people have these guns,” Frank Oxford said. “It’s scary.”

Frank doesn’t want that fear to keep his kids from living. He said he doesn’t want his children to be paranoid every time they leave the house.

Still, shootings may be hard for children to process, which is why doctors said it’s important for people to address them immediately.

“Even though we try to protect our kids and keep them inside a bubble, they’re out there in the world as well,” said Dr. Mary Avendt-Reeber, who is a pediatrician at Metro Health.

Experts urge families to be direct and honest when talking to their kids about tragedies.

In a post on its website, The American School Counselor Association provides tips on the best ways parents can help their kids after a shooting. They include:

  • Try and keep routines as normal as possible. Kids gain security from the predictability of routine, including attending school.
  • Limit exposure to television and the news.
  • Be honest with kids and share with them as much information as they are developmentally able to handle.
  • Listen to kids’ fears and concerns.
  • Reassure kids that the world is a good place to be, but that there are people who do bad things.
  • Parents and adults need to first deal with and assess their own responses to crisis and stress.
  • Rebuild and reaffirm attachments and relationships.

“We want to open that dialogue,” Lori Oxford said. “We’re all in this together; we need to support each other.”

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