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Expert talks about how to talk to children after Rigby shooting

RIGBY, Idaho (KIFI) - Parents and the community as a whole are reeling after a shooting at Rigby Middle School Thursday morning. This may be leaving some to wonder about how to talk about it with their kids.

Karl Winegar, the chief administrative officer, and a licensed clinical social worker at America Health said kids under the age of eight don't need to know too much.

"If it's not directly related to them, it's something that's not impacting them, children below eight you probably mostly avoid the discussion," Winegar said.

However, if it does impact them, or if they're in that upper elementary, early middle school age range, Winegar said to keep the answers simple.

"I think quick, simple answers are very helpful, to just be able to say, 'Sometimes bad things happen, but we're okay now, we're safe now' and replace those with good memories and talk about the good things in life," Winegar said.

Winegar also said with teenagers, it's good to have those conversations with them.

"I think oftentimes they start to have more moral questions about why it happened, and they might have some questions about social justice," Winegar said. "And I think those are good questions to engage in, and discuss, 'What are you doing, what am I doing to help our community heal, what are some things you can do to reach outside of yourself and help and support those around you?'"

Winegar also cautions shock could last a couple of days, and some signs of distress may not show until then.

"Anytime someone has traumatic things happen, I think it's great to just be aware of isolating behaviors," Winegar said. "Certainly with children and teenagers, that also may look like anger and frustration, so the depressive symptoms are important to be aware of."

It's also important for adults to take care of themselves.

"Just take this opportunity to engage well with your children, to spend time together, express feelings of love and concern for each other, those are good healing things to do," Winegar said. "It's important not to become too paranoid and overact I think. Doing good self-care, getting out of the house, going for a walk."

America Health has a 24-hour crisis line, and counselors available, at 208-523-HELP (4357).

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Rachel Fabbi

Rachel Fabbi is a reporter, anchor and producer for Local News 8 and Eyewitness News 3.

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