Posted: Dec 17, 2012 7:59 AM by David Jay - MTN News
PHOTO COURTESY: REUTERS
BILLINGS - A Montana psychologist says the tragedy in Newtown Connecticut can affect children all over the country.
"They're going to hear about, get exposed through family, friends, school," said Dr. Michael Butz, who specializes in child and adolescent psychology.
"It's difficult for them to be exposed to it and not know if it's ok to talk about it. And parents need to take time to make sure they talk to their children about these matters and find out how they're feeling about it."
Dr. Butz says it's important for parents to find out if the tragedy has affected children.
"One of the feelings would be, this might happen to me," said Butz. "Another feeling would be am I safe? Another feeling might be, that's horrible , I wouldn't ever want to see that happen to somebody, and so they'll have questions along those lines."
He says parents may need to give their children important messages.
"The message you want to give them is fundamentally, your world's not going to change right now."
Dr. Butz says part of the getting past the tragedy is keep the routine.
"Going back to regular schedules making sure that they have a predictable , knowable environment where they have been reassured that their school is safe, is very important," Butz said.
And he says children can become overwhelmed with the news and the pictures.
"[Parents] need to limit their media exposure of these kinds of times," Butz said. "Limit their children's exposure to these kinds of events. They really want to make sure they understand and respond to what they're children are feeling and experiencing about events like what happened in Connecticut."
Butz says parents can get help from the American Psychological Association help center.
For others, who may need to talk with someone, Butz recommends the Disaster Distress Help Line at 800.985.5990.
And if some one is having problems holding it together, the National Suicide Prevention Hotline would be a good resource. That number is 800.272.TALK or 800.272.8225.
Dr. Butz advises that parents may need to watch the effects of the tragedy on children, for about one to two weeks.