What Did You Tell Your Child About Connecticut?

Have you told them anything?

As I write this, it’s been 3 days since a lone gunman forced his way into a school in Newtown, Connecticut in the USA, and shot dead six teachers and 20 children. The children killed were only six and seven years old.

People across the world are in mourning, along with families of the victims and anyone who lives in the area affected. Many of my friends have been avoiding the news because they know reading or hearing about the shootings will not be helpful for their mental health. but anyone with school age child can not help but fail to imagine how they would feel if it was their child, or their school, involved in a shooting like this.

DD3 is exactly the same age as the slain children, and thinking about her going in to the school she loves in the morning, and coming out again in a body bag instead of on her scooter just about tips me over the edge. I have tears in my eyes just typing that sentence. As parents, it’s natural to not even want our children to know such a scenario is possible. I know many of us have been shielding our children from this story, I sure have.

Ignoring the news was a workable strategy over the weekend, but for those of us with children in State school, they have another week of school. Another week in the playground, another week of kids talking.

I’m not so worried about the four and the six year olds, their playground chat is mainly about who has what for lunch and what Santa might bring them. But  my older two daughters are nine and ten; there are 360 children in their junior school. The chances that at least one of them hasn’t heard about this tragedy and wants to talk about it is remote.  Kids love to freak their peers out with horror stories and I’m guessing it’s only a matter of time before one of my older two comes home asking questions. They will hear about it sooner or later anyhow as they both like to watch CBBC Newsround, and read First  News and it’s bound to be mentioned in either of these places eventually.

Maybe I should have said something before they went into school today?  I honestly don’t know, DD2 has a bit of a mouth on her and could quite possibly have been the one that informed the rest of the school, even if she’d been asked not to. I didn’t want to be responsible for that.

So what will I say to them? I don’t know. But I know I will talk to them about it, mainly to reassure them that it’s very unlikely that anything like this could happen in the UK.  Gun laws are so much stricter over here, it would be hard for someone to get their hands on a weapon that could do so much damage , the police would stop them before they could hurt anyone etc, etc, etc. Platitudes really, and most of it possibly not exactly true. But the gist of it is and that’s what matters in a situation like this, I think. Sometimes it’s best not to be completely truthful with your kids.

Today is Monday, and Newtown is starting to prepare for the funerals for the first of the victims. It seems that the first buried will be children; something no parent should ever have to do, especially in such tragic circumstances and so close to the Festive season. I won’t be watching out  for footage but I’m pretty sure it’ll be hard to avoid getting a glimpse of such tiny coffins on the way to their final resting places.

It’s going to be all over the news and parents everywhere will hug their children tight whenever they think about those poor parents and their empty arms.  But while we clutch at our living, breathing offspring and give thanks for their safety, let us hope that this time America will do something about its outdated gun laws.

It actually looks like Connecticut might be the tipping point and that the people of America might finally say ‘Enough’.

And maybe, just maybe, we’ll be able to tell our children that those 26 lives weren’t lost completely in vain.




7 comments on “What Did You Tell Your Child About Connecticut?

  1. I did speak to my two (age 8 and 10) about it as soon as it happened. I gave them the brief facts and explained that it was a very, very unusual thing to happen and that is why it was all over the news – if things like this happened often then there wouldn’t be so much coverage. But of course, it is all a bit useless because in reality if a tragedy like this is to befall our family then there is nothing we can do to plan for it or to avoid it so I also took the opportunity to remind them that life is precious, that THEY are precious and that we must live our life for good. L x

    • How did they react to what you told them Laura? I think my older two are just going to be horrified when they find out.You are right though, life is precious and it’s a good policy to remind ourselves of this at times like this.

      • They were very sad for the people involved and baffled as to why someone would do this (as we all are) but not overly concerned about their own safety. Michael and I do watch the news while they are about so we will often have discussions about what is reported and they are pretty level headed about it. I try to be honest with them without flooding them with detail.

  2. My daughter is 10 years old and came home from school recently talking about Dunblane – one of the other kids had mentioned it and she wanted to know if it was true.

    I spoke to her then about what happened, avoiding giving too many details. Today before I went to school, I reminded her about that story, and talked about Newtown. I concentrated on the fact that because of Dunblane, our laws in UK had been changed and the chance of it happening again were therefore very slim.

    I also talked about the positive moments, of the teachers shielding their pupils, of them hiding in the cupboards, of the little boy Obama mentioned who knew karate.

    I don’t want to tell her these things, but I know I have to as children will talk in the class and I want her to be reassured that it is not likely to happen here.

  3. I asked my two what they’d heard about it. Child One (10) said ‘yeah, I heard about it -it’s Americans – everyone knows they’re crazy – nope I’m not worried.’ Child Two (7) wanted to know what had happened – was worried until I told him (rightly or wrongly) that it couldn’t happen here.

    They both read First News so I wanted them to have a bit of a heads up on it. i’ll be interested to see what First News do say about it actually

  4. My daughter is only 4 (and three quarters) and I was hoping not to talk to her about it as I felt it was too easy for her to relate to and get worried and scared about it.
    However, she unexpectedly saw a news report about it when we were out and about so I did have to talk to her and answer her questions. I very nearly cried while talking to her about it which I think she picked up on and then said it made her feel like crying too. However, she seems not to be dwelling on it or letting it upset her. I focussed on how it wasn’t going to happen to her and that most of the children in the school were not hurt. Her school also sent home a letter on Monday with some advice about talking to children about it although the teacher said most of the kids (all 4/5/6) in the class didn’t seem to have heard about it.

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