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How CNY children could be feeling the impact of Texas school shooting


A Syracuse-area child psychologist says most children are likely scared and questioning their safety following the school shooting in Texas earlier this week. Nineteen children and two adults in the same classroom were killed. Tanya Pellettiere says parents shouldn’t hesitate to talk about it with children over age five, while also reassuring kids that their number one job is to keep them safe. She worried that some older kids are becoming desensitized to the violence.

“I’ve had a couple of kids’ comment, 'Well, here it goes again,'" Pellettiere said. "And almost have a really neutral response to it because it does seem to happen more frequently in their lives. ”

She said changes in behavior could be a sign that children are stressed.

“If it’s suddenly difficult to get them up out of the bed, it could be a sign they are not sleeping. If their appetite changes – they are eating more, eating less, if they are particularly clingy, and they don’t want to do things – they don’t want to do trips to the stores or their usual after-school activities," Pellettiere said.

Pellettiere said it’s OK for parents to be honest that they don’t have all the answers. At the same time she said it’s a good opportunity to teach children that we all deal with big feelings.

“If we ask for help in dealing with those big feelings, then we can get better at dealing with those big feelings. We’re not sure why this young man did what he did, but as a psychologist, I have to wonder it he didn’t feel like he had the resources and support,"

Pellettiere said one of the most important things parents can do is to give kids a sense of control when the world around them seems so chaotic. She suggested volunteering or doing something positive for the community.

“If we can do better at kindness and compassion, we might not have as many people feeling like that they have no outlet, no resource and they kind of live on the fringe," Pellettiere said. "So just recommitting some of the human principles I think can really help kids feel better, and families feel better.”

She said parents can reach out to teachers, school based counselors, and mental health resources in the community if they feel their child needs extra help. Meanwhile, she said it’s probably best to limit kids' exposure to TV news and social media.

Scott Willis covers politics, local government, transportation, and arts and culture for WAER. He came to Syracuse from Detroit in 2001, where he began his career in radio as an intern and freelance reporter. Scott is honored and privileged to bring the day’s news and in-depth feature reporting to WAER’s dedicated and generous listeners. You can find him on twitter @swillisWAER and email him at