BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - It's a situation that's difficult for anyone to stomach...dozens of lives lost in a mass shooting. It can be an even harder situation for parents, as they wonder how they're going to explain this incredible violence to their children.
Gwynn Shamlin is the director of ICARE in Baton Rouge, a school program that counsels kids on topics like bullying, substance abuse, and violence. Shamlin says maturity level is more important than age when it comes to figuring out how to explain these kinds of situations.
"Not every eight year old is at the same level of maturity, and so what you share with them should be based on what you know about your child," Shamlin says.
Depending on that maturity level, parents should decide what information they want to withold. Shamlin says certain aspects of the incident are easier for kids to understand. "You know what your child can and can't handle with regard to facts that may be related to violence. The more gruesome details may not be necessary to help a child understand loss and death and grief, and so you want to decide what you share and what you don't share based on what your child is ready for."
When it comes to more mature kids, Shamlin says parents can be more open about what they discuss. "We talk about grief, we talk about loss, we talk about death, and what that means, the finality of it. Older kids can better grasp the understanding of how final death is."