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Back at school, teachers take on shooting topic - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

Back at school, teachers take on shooting topic

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BURLINGTON, Vt. -

It has been on the news around the clock since Friday -- the massacre at Sandy Hook

Elementary -- and a difficult conversation for parents to have with their kids.

"I think it is important for them to know, but to focus on the horrific details is not necessary," said David Barron, a parent.

"It was pretty tough, we wanted to make sure we were setting the right tone and not to frighten them," said France Silberman, a parent.

While the tragedy has affected people of all ages across the globe, many are worried about the impact this will have on kids. Psychiatrists say it is important to have an honest conversation with them no matter how old they are. Dr. David Fassler teaches Psychiatry at the University of Vermont. He said parents can be an effective filter, explaining what happened before kids hear about it from their friends. "The best way to talk to your kids is figure out what they have already heard and know, and then answer their questions honestly and use words and concepts they can understand," Fassler said.

And for the time being, he said parents should limit access to information about the school shooting through social media, where information could be wrong, and on television where images can be frightening.  "The repetition can be difficult, it can reinforce the impact on the kid," he said.

In the Burlington School District, teachers of grades kindergarten through second have been asked to only speak about the situation in Connecticut if a student brings it up. Teachers of grades third and up have been asked to be upfront about it in a proactive way.

"We don't want the fear to override the rational thought," said Dylan McNamara, a Burlington School District Psychologist.

District officials said the most important step right now is to make sure kids feel safe at school by reinforcing the reasons behind security drills. "The kids need to see the adults feel safe and are confident," McNamara said.

Teachers have also been asked to make sure when students do discuss what happened at Sandy Hook Elementary, to make sure kids are discussing accurate details and information.
"Keep an open dialogue with kids today, and be aware that this could be several days, weeks down the road where we may have to have these conversations," McNamara said.

Trying to explain to children what happened in an elementary school, when the question still lingers how it could happen in the first place.

Numbers to the HowardCenter to find help for kids showing signs of trouble:

For kids under 18 -- HowardCenter First Call -- 802-488-7777
For young people over 18 -- HowardCenter Mobile Crisis -- 802-488-6400
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