Local parents question school shooting conversation - WRCBtv.com | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

Local parents question school shooting conversation

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CHATTANOOGA, TN (WRCB) -- Sandy Hook's heartbreak is a gut-punch to almost everybody everywhere. The headlines are hard to hide and that has local parents trying to figure out how or if they should talk to their children about it.

Channel 3 talked to several parents-- many saying they'll avoid the topic at all costs while others feel like they only have the weekend to figure it out and prep them before hearing about it at school Monday.

"My wife called me crying," Bob Widerkehr said.

"It's not even close to us, but it does hit home," Tina Summers said.

Local parents say these images are hard for them, as adults to handle.  "I could just picture my girls and what it would be like to some home to an empty home," John Fortney said.

So father of three, John Fortney is keeping quiet with his kids for now and limiting TV time. "There's no way mommy or daddy can wrap their minds around what happened and certainly don't expect my daughters to understand," he said.

Dad Bob Whiderkher has been talking to other parents all wondering how long they can keep their little ones clear of the news. "Quite frankly they feel very safe at school and I want them to continue to do that and I don't want them to start fearing," he said.

Others are telling their kids for fear if they don't, it will be that much more confusing when they go back to school Monday and other kids likely bring it up.

"Thinking about what to say and how to phrase it and how to put it into perspective for them so they will understand it because, I mean they're just 10 and 7," Summers said.

"It hurts. These conversations are painful. We don't like thinking about this stuff. We don't like talking about it," Licensed Clinical Social Worker Farlie Chastain said.

Chastain says how to handle it partly depends on the kid's age. Let the younger ones bring it up. With older ones, ask if they've heard the news, but let them talk specifics.

"Stopping and listening, asking questions about thoughts and feelings and then really thinking about your answer, not trying to answer questions that are un-answerable," Chastain said.

He says do more listening than talking and keep a calm demeanor. He also says avoid keeping it on the TV and talking about it with other adults when children are Chastain also says to avoid pointing out similarities in age or grades. That's when kids will start fearing it could happen to them as well.

Instead, reassure them that their teachers and principals are making sure they're safe.

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