American Humane Association Issues Tips Following
 Shots at Atlanta-area Elementary School

8/20/2013, 4:51 p.m.
Students are being photographed as they get off the buses after McNair school shooting. (Photo by WSB-TV).

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Following the firing of shots that led to a frightening emergency evacuation of elementary schoolchildren at McNair Discovery Learning Academy in the greater Atlanta area, the 136-year-old charity American Humane Association issued these tips for parents and other caregivers to help children cope with the terrible fear and uncertainty created by such an incident.

“Few things are more terrifying than hearing that shots have been fired at a school…now imagine what it is like for a child on the scene,” said Dr. Robin Ganzert, president and CEO of American Humane Association. “We are incredibly thankful that none of the children were hurt, but parents and teachers should be aware that incidents like this can affect not only the children at the school where a shooting occurred but those around the country who hear about it. Fear and anxiety can come out in ways that are not immediately seen and we as adults need to be there to help them cope.”

To help, Dr. Ganzert and the experts at American Humane Association recommend the following:

• Keep an eye on children’s emotional reactions. Talk to children – and just as important – listen to them. Encourage kids to express how they feel and ask if anything is worrying them.

• Regardless of age, reassure them frequently of their safety and security, and reinforce that you, local officials, and their communities are working to keep them safe. Older children may seem more capable, but can also be affected.

• Keep your descriptions to children simple and limit their exposure to graphic information. Keep to the basic facts that something bad happened but that they are safe. Use words they can understand and avoid technical details and terms.