KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE)- When something like Tuesday’s mass shooting at a Texas elementary school happens parents are left with difficult conversations with their children.
Unfortunately, this is not an uncommon situation. Over the past couple of years, there have been several school shooting situations across the country.
So, here are a few ways you can talk your children on how to handle such a traumatic event.
Scott Johnson is a former FBI agent of 24 years and the founder of Blue Lion Tactical Solutions.
He was the primary active shooter instructor for the FBI’s Knoxville Office after Sandy Hook occurred in 2012. Part of his job is preparing individuals and businesses on how to respond to active shooter situations.
He explains that the best way to protect your children is to inform them about possible threats.
“We tend to not do active shooter training because we think it’s going to scare our kids. Well to me there’s nothing scarier than what Texas just dealt with.”
He said some safety measures you can take include being aware of your exits when you walk into a room and if a dangerous situation were to occur, listening to your authorities.
“The world can be a dangerous place sometimes and for them to pay attention to mentors, to pay attention to authority figures, whether it’s teachers, principles, law enforcement officers, those individuals are there to protect them,” Johnson adds.
It’s also good to check in with your child’s mental health.
Ben Harrington the CEO of the Mental Health Association of East Tennessee said, “addressing it today, we don’t have anything to worry about it because its something that happened elsewhere, we’re out of school, we got a few months to get past this event.”
He said the Mental Health Association of East Tennessee usually sees an uptick in their calls during a time like this,
“The biggest thing I want parents to know is that mental illness is real, it’s diagnosable and it’s treatable if you go.”
He adds to watch for changes in your child’s sleep patterns, eating habits, and group activities. Harrington also tells parents, to tell their kids to be aware of their fellow classmates’ mental states.
“We work with middle school and high school level to be able to better identify symptoms of mental illness or suicidal behaviors in their fellow students.”
The Mental Health Association of East Tennessee has a mental health screening you can take online at www.mhaet.com/screenings along with a helpline you can call at 865-584-9125.
Scott Johnson with Blue Lion Tactical Solutions does home and business evaluations to help people feel as safe as possible where they work and where they live.