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By Ashley Ludwig
According to a Saturday night report by the Santa Barbara Sheriff Bill Brown, Elliot Rodger fatally stabbed three men in his residence, shot two women to death in front of a sorority house, shot a man to death inside a deli, exchanged gunfire twice with police and injured 13 people as he drove from block to block, then fatally self-inflicted a gunshot to the head while sitting behind the wheel of his wrecked BMW. “Inside the car, police found three handguns, all legally purchased, and more than 400 rounds of unused ammunition,” Brown said at a press conference. Moreover, Rodger reportedly e-mailed his intentions to family minutes before his rampage began.
Shock. Disbelief. Panic.
As YouTube video manifesto made the rounds, parents shielded, deflected the tirade from children’s news-savvy ears. Trying to explain why a mentally disturbed 22-year-old man went on a killing spree in the Isla Vista Santa Barbara City College town, went on a rampage borders on the impossible.
For Southwest Riverside California residents, it doesn’t matter if such an act happens across the map, or at the school next door.
In the wake of the Connecticut shootings, licensed marriage and family therapist, Rochelle Whitson, of Whitson Family Therapy, in Temecula, reminded parents to pause and consider their own reactions before leaving the news on around the kids.
In a YouTube Video, a madman is given center stage, his platform on why he planned what became a deadly rampage, however, for the sane, such reasoning is impossible to understand. Having children watch or listen is more than fiction, or a cautionary tale.
“My first advice to parents would be to limit having the news on in front of your kids. But in the case of news-savvy children, answer their questions in an age appropriate way to create a feeling of safety for them.”
As news of the college town shooting spread, a Best Buy shopper paused to collectively share their horror at the fast-spreading news. “How can people do such a thing?” said one shopper.
“Kids look to their parents to see how they should react or respond in difficult situations. It is up to the parents to create that sense of security, because when things are relate-able, it becomes scarier for them.” Whitson said. “It is also important to not go into too much detail, when talking with your kids about violence in school, as this can only increase anxiety in the children.”
It is only natural to feel increased anxiety, fear, and trepidation as the details unfold but pause, and remember that the way you react sends a message to your kids.
“If your kids get the message from you not to worry, it keeps it from their realm. The logical reasoning portion of your brain doesn’t fully develop until age 25, so imagine, if you are having a difficult time processing this, how are they going to be able to logically respond?” Whitson said.
Another reminder to parents is that your concerns often transfer to your children. “The way mom and dad handle what worries them show their children how to respond. Your non-verbal cues can help minimize their worry.”
So take a moment before you collect your kids this afternoon. Grieve. And then hug them a little tighter, for the ones who can’t.
For more information, visit: www.temeculacounseling.com