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Health professionals explain how to talk to children after Kansas City parade shooting


Health officials at Children's Mercy Hospital in Kansas City shared in a news conference Thursday afternoon that they are concerned about the lingering mental health effects after Wednesday's shooting at .

Locally, Burrell Behavioral Health said many children are struggling with fear and anxiety this week. Nine children were among those shot on Wednesday.

Amy Hill, Burrell's executive vice president of community and school based services, said the parade shooting has come up at a school she visited on Thursday, as well as within her own family.

"My own 8-year-old son was talking about being scared last night just after hearing about the shooting," Hill said. "So, we know that this is really impacting not just adults but youth also."

She said parents shouldn't be afraid to talk to their children about the topic and should answer any questions honestly. Some tips for how to talk about this with children include:

  • Ask questions before giving answers.
  • Let children know they are safe and supported.
  • Have the conversations at natural times. Not when the child is getting ready for bed, but maybe around the dinner table or in the car.
  • Limit children's exposure to images or details of the event.
  • Answer honestly and only state the facts.

"Always encourage parents to just state the facts," Hill said. "If we don't tell kids the facts, then they're going to be thinking up details, and that's how rumors can start. So, it's always okay to just give them factual information, and if they ask a question that you don't know the answer to, say 'I don't know the answer to that,' be really honest about it."

Children's Mercy Kansas City also said to watch for changes in children. Signs of post-traumatic stress disorder can include panic symptoms such as a racing heart or rapid breathing, feelings of shame, sadness or anger, nightmares of the event and avoiding things that bring back memories of the event.

People also need to check in on their own mental well-being after Wednesday's shooting. Casey Muckler, crisis services coordinator at the Missouri Department of Mental Health, said some people might be experiencing emotional distress now while others might not feel the effects for a while.

"Effects last long after the event actually happens, and we still see a need for support in the community long after an event like this happens," Muckler said.

Anyone needing emotional support is encouraged to call or text the 988 National Suicide and Crisis Lifeline.

"(988) is not just for things that are massive feelings," Muckler said. "You can reach out any time that you feel like you could benefit from some sort of emotional support."

Along with 988, the national Disaster Distress Helpline can provide immediate crisis counseling. People can call 1-800-985-5990 to get help.

Burrell Behavioral Health said it's important for people to keep a normal routine of eating, sleeping and exercising. Hill said a difference in behavior can be normal following a traumatic event, but people should get professional help if things don't revert back to normal.

"If anyone, adults or kids, start to notice that 'These thoughts are just not leaving my head, I'm having intrusive thoughts about this over and over, I just can't seem to get to sleep anymore,' and it's been several days post the event, we're always going to encourage you to seek help," Hill said.

People should also be checking in on other adults and looking for possible signs of emotional distress.

"This is a really heavy, tough situation," Muckler said. "So, I think it's really important that we all keep checking in on each other."

The Department of Mental Health has many resources listed on its website. Some mental health resources available in Mid-Missouri include:

  • Burrell Behavioral Health, 3401 Berrywood Drive, Columbia
  • New Horizons Community Support Services, 1408 Hathman Place, Columbia
  • New Horizons Community Support Services, 2013 Williams Street, Jefferson City
  • Compass Health, 227 Metro Drive, Jefferson City
  • Compass Health, 1450 E. 10th Street, Rolla
  • Compass Health, 1800 Community Drive, Clinton
  • East Central Missouri Behavioral Health Services, 340 Kelley Parkway, Mexico
  • Comprehensive Health Systems, 12677 Heavenly Acres Drive, New London
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Morgan Buresh

Morgan is an evening anchor and reporter who came to ABC 17 News in April 2023.


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