Tuesday, January 24, 2023

Talking to children about mass shootings isn’t easy, but here’s how you can get through it together

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MONTEREY PARK, Calif. (KABC) — As the Monterey Park community tries to pick up the pieces from one of the deadliest mass shootings in recent history, you might forget how staggering children are too.

So how can adults start this conversation?

“It’s a difficult type of question that you and I grapple with as adults,” said Dr. Jena Lee, Director of Emergency Pediatric Psychiatry at UCLA Health.

Lee said while it might be challenging, it’s important for parents to start the conversation.

“If you’re having a hard time initiating, imagine how much harder it is for your child to initiate without this model,” Lee said.

Lee said don’t worry about not being able to answer all of her questions — just be prepared to acknowledge how your kids are feeling and give them a safe space to express what they think.

WATCH: How mass shootings affect mental health: What drives a shooter’s actions?

“It’s not about giving them the right answers, but we could actually say ‘I don’t know’ and agree with them,” Lee said. “It’s hard and we can’t understand why people make decisions like this and it’s scary.”

The celebration of the Lunar New Year and its symbolism of a new beginning make Saturday’s tragedy even more personal for many Asian American families.

“It’s a tragedy that requires that we come together and remind our children that we have each other, even if such an important holiday is hurt in some ways with all that it represents,” Lee said.

She acknowledges that sharing how you’re feeling isn’t always the norm in different Asian cultures. At times like these, however, Lee can’t stress enough the importance of finding someone to talk to.

Parents need to support each other so that they can support their children.

“The best way you can actually keep your child safe and actually protect them is to make sure they know they can come to you and talk to you about anything,” Lee said.

Meanwhile, with the help of state and federal agencies, the Langley Senior Citizen Center on Emerson Avenue in Monterey Park has been transformed into a crisis response center for families and friends.

On Sunday afternoon, officials told Eyewitness News that five families stopped by to speak to counselors for support.

“It was comforting and just cathartic just talking about it because we didn’t really process it too much between my husband and I, so it was good for us,” said Lenora Hall of Monterey Park.

Additionally, GoFundMe has created a verified fundraiser hub to help and is constantly updating with verified accounts.

You can donate through the Monterey Park Shooting: How To Help hub.

The link spans all social media channels, urging donations to victims and their families in need of help.

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