After the school shooting in Texas last week, it’s evident these tragedies have somehow become our new normal. With lack of action on the part of the government, it’s easy to feel helpless + want to detach ourselves from these situations. To ignore them because we feel we can’t make any impactful changes on our own. But there are things you can be doing in the meantime as we wait for some major policy changes to take place. Here are 9 ways each parent can make a difference, beginning in their own homes, to prevent future gun violence in schools:

Discuss + Encourage Feelings.

It’s a scary time to be a student in our world today. How do your children feel about gun violence? Do they feel safe at school? Are they anxious? Are they curious about guns? Do they feel that gun violence solves anything? Encourage them to share these feelings + reassure them that their safety is your #1 priority. Remember, if you’re not having these conversations with them — they are having them with someone else who may not be as calm or filtered as you.

Get to know your children.

Have some daily family time away from your phone, computer, and TV. Encourage conversation. Ask them about their friends + the people they hang out with. Discuss what they like to do while hanging out with friends. Encourage them to bring their friends to your house. Let them know they can trust you + that they always have a safe place to share. The more you know about your children + the people in their lives, the more likely you’ll be able to detect any problems.

Limit exposure to media coverage.

The news coverage of these events can be scary for children. Remember, the media shows things for the “shock factor” because it’s their job to keep the audience intrigued + coming back for more news. It’s your job to limit your child’s exposure to images + reports that may traumatize them.

Have your own self-care practices + people you can lean on.

Children don’t have the capacity to carry the weight of your emotions in addition to their own. They need you as a safe space to express their fear + anxiety. Be sure you have your own support system/self-care practices in place so that you can ease your own worries + approach these conversations with a clear head. Don’t lean on your child for emotional support.

Volunteer at the school.

Being able to directly observe what it’s like in your child’s school + what kind of security measures they have in place can help ease some of your concerns. It allows you to get to know some of the teachers + students at the school. This can also help show your child that their school is a safe place to be. Not enough time to volunteer? Take a long lunch break + have a cafeteria lunch-date with your child.

Observe your child’s behavior.

After all, you know them better than anyone. Have you noticed any recent changes? Are they socializing with appropriate peers? Are they spending too much time on social media? Do they prefer to spend a lot of time in their room alone? Are they sleeping too much? Be aware of their habits. If you notice a significant change, investigate it. There are usually warning signs before a child resorts to gun violence (toward themselves or someone else): don’t ignore them.

Discuss bullying.

Does your child get bullied at school? Or do they think it’s funny to bully others? Children who feel ostracized by their classmates are more likely to experience issues related to anxiety + depression (and in turn resort to gun violence.) Be sure your kids know they can talk to you if they are being bullied. Also be sure your children know how harmful it is to bully someone else. If they confide in you about someone else who is being bullied, be sure that it’s reported to the appropriate resource + that something is done about it.

Get Help.

If you feel that your child may be having some mental health difficulties, seek help! You can never play it too safe + there are tons of places where you can receive a psychological evaluation or an appointment with a therapist. It’s nothing to be ashamed of: 1 in 5 children will receive a mental health diagnosis. Let the professionals help. If you don’t know where to start, call me. No matter what state you live in, I’ll help connect you with the right resources.

Lock up your weapons (or get rid of them)

This one is pretty easy: eliminate access to any kind of weapon in your household! If there isn’t a safe place to keep guns in your house — it’s time to get rid of them.

While these things may seem small, it’s a good place to start. Think about impact if these things were happening in every household! It starts at home. Have questions? Concerned about someone you know? Call me: (757) 932-5462