Child psychologist explains how tragedies, like the Texas school shooting, may amplify emotions for communities impacted by gun violence.
HARTFORD, Connecticut — The shooting in Uvalde is once again sparking conversations surrounding gun violence and mental health across the nation and in Connecticut.
School shootings have been more on the minds of children, families and education leaders in Connecticut since the Sandy Hook Elementary Shooting 10 years ago. Dr. Laura Sanders, a psychologist with the Institute of Living, explained how tragedies like the Texas school shooting amplify emotions for those in Connecticut communities impacted by mass shootings or where gun violence is more prevalent.
“We here in Connecticut have a direct connection to this type of school shooting and gun violence,” Saunders said. “This is particularly touching or emotional for many people in this state even though it’s been 10 years.”
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In Texas, 19 children and two adults were killed by an 18-year-old gunman who reportedly walked into an elementary school Tuesday and opened fire.
“As we see more and more of these horrific tragedies that are perpetuated by people who own guns and access to guns, I think it creates a dialogue that feels personal but also needs to become political,” Saunders said.
Children of today have become accustomed to active shooter and lockdown drills. Education leaders also have response plans to school shootings and gun violence more on their minds as more communities across the nation are faced with tragedies.
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“It has been a major focus of the Department of Education since the tragic shootings at Newtown in Sandy Hook School. We’ve been focused on a number of efforts,” said Scott Newgass who oversees Mental Health and School Safety for the Connecticut State Department of Education. ”Providing information to schools, to parents, to families about how to protect themselves if they choose to own a weapon.”
Newgass said it’s important that schools address mental health from the beginning.
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“If a student is unable to focus, if a student is unable to feel safe, if a student is unable to concentrate, it will interfere with their ability to learn,” he said.
Education Commissioner Charlene Russell-Tucker sent out a letter to superintendents reminding them of safety and mental health supports, noting that each district has crisis response drills and providing a list of state and national mental health resources.
Among the materials is a list of tips for parents on how to address traumatic events created by the Center for the Study of Traumatic Stress.
More Resources from CSDE:
–Talking to Children About Violence: Tips for Parents and Teachers, National Association of School Psychologists
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