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Easing the anxiety: Experts provide tips on comforting kids after Oxford shooting

Posted at 8:24 AM, Dec 16, 2021

(WXYZ) — The impacts of the shooting at Oxford High School as well as the many copycat threats that followed have caused disruption in the community, especially for students.

“Be available, be together and maintain your routines,” said Catherine Lentz, director of Infant and Young Child Mental Health Services at The Guidance Center.

Mental health experts with The Guidance Center in metro Detroit are sharing some tips parents may need to help comfort students as they continue to process the shooting at Oxford High School.

"Validate and accept their feelings,” social worker Michael Burton said.

Professionals say it’s important to keep an open line of communication, but that looks different for children depending on their age group.

“It’s important to be brief but honest. Sharing too much information can overwhelm them and make them more stressed,” Lentz said.

For high schoolers, social worker LeTorrian Jackson says after you have the conversation with your child, it’s time to discuss a safety plan.

“(Letting them know) you and I have a plan of how we are going to communicate with each other if you feel like you are in trouble at school of if something is going down,” Jackson explained.

There are also signs that metal health leaders say parents should be on the lookout for to know if their children are struggling, whether it’s anxiety of fear.

“If they are unable to get the sleep they need or unable to fall asleep or waking up through the night, those are signs for concern,” Burton said.

He wants parents to pay attention to behavioral changes.

“Middle schoolers are trying to become their own person, become more independent, move away from the caregiver. If they are becoming extra clingy or wanting to be around you more than usual, it’s a sign that something is going on,” Burton said.

Parents can also take action in their own homes by monitoring social media use.

Jackson says adults can look into apps and websites like Bark to manage and filter what their kids are doing online.

“(Bark) monitors their conversations. It can alert you on things they are doing and new slang words that being used,” Jackson explains.

Parents are also asked to encourage their students to use the OK2SAY website, an anonymous and safe place for them to report anything they may hear or see.