Heartbreak and Horror: Resources to Talk to Kids About Gun Violence and When the News is Scary

Written by: Erin K Risner, Parent, Kansas City Resident and Sr. Director of Marketing & Communications

I’m not only a Kansas City area resident and a youth development professional, but I’m also a mom of two who watched online as the horror of yesterday’s shooting unfolded in my own community. Nine children were treated for gunshot wounds.

I will be honest and say I didn’t sleep and I can’t seem to get rid of this sick feeling in my stomach. I also had to talk to my third grader about it before school this morning. What a nightmare.

But I know I’m not alone; not only am I one of millions who are also devastated and struggling today, but as I sit at my computer, fellow parents and residents across the city who were there in person yesterday are grappling–especially those directly impacted.

I don’t have to tell you how devastating gun violence is on our communities and the effects it has on young people. We pulled up this post we published in May 2022 expressing our grief after the shooting in Uvalde, TX, which was one of 644 mass shootings that year. Then, 2023 had 656 mass shootings. In the first two months of 2024, there have been 49 mass shootings. The gun violence at the Kansas City parade started between individuals but ended in mass casualties. When will it stop?

We are all connected. Our care and response matters. At Camp Fire, “We are responsive” is one of our eight core values and something we take seriously, especially when it comes to looking out for the health, safety, and well-being of young people–our number one priority. Youth can’t learn, grow, and thrive if they don’t feel safe.  

It is important that in moments like this, we take time to sit with our emotions, care for each other, and let the shock and grief transform into action. When we allow ourselves space to feel all our emotions, our minds can begin to clear and we can move forward with clear, effective action while avoiding causing more harm.

I hope you have taken the time to check in with yourself, your families, friends, and your coworkers. We need each other.

Find some resources below for you and the young people in your life as you process and cope with the tragedies in our communities, across our country, and beyond borders. 

How to talk to your kids when the news is scary:

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How to talk about gun violence:

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Here are some other good pieces of advice I came across today:

Places to take action:

From the Children's Place: Our community witnessed an unthinkable even today. As we're attempting to understand this senseless act, these are things we must or for our children.
From the Children's Place: Turn off the TV: Children do not need to be exposed to the details.
From the Children's Place: Move and action are the most healing act. Take a walk together, have a dance party, plat catch with a ball. This will help both you and your child release the tension.
From the Children's Place: Answer the questions they ask, but don't over-explain. Do take the opportunity to correct inaccuracies. It's okay to say "I don't know."
From the Children's Place: Listen more than you talk. Give your child the opportunity to share what they're thinking and how they are feeling.
From the Children's Place: Acknowledge their feelings and assure them that they are now safe and that you will work to protect them.

February 15, 2024

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