Locals react to mass shooting at a Texas elementary school

Sault social worker said there are several techniques parents can use to help children cope with distressing themes

At least 19 children and two adults are dead following Tuesday’s mass shooting at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas.

The attack came just ten days after a racially-motivated shooting killed ten in a Buffalo supermarket, and ten years since Sandy Hook – the deadliest elementary school shooting in the nation’s history.

Once again, US Democrat senators are calling on the GOP to work with them on a gun reform bill, but several American elected officials have noted it is unlikely they will reach an agreement.

According to the World Population Review, the US has had 288 school shootings in 2022 alone.

Canada, meanwhile, has had two.

Locally, residents are in disbelief over the actions of the shooter, and the inaction from the US government.

SooToday spoke to a number of residents to gauge reaction.

“I wonder how many times this has to happen before effective changes will be made to gun laws,” Faith Panek said. “It’s absolutely wrong and the government needs to make effective changes to stop this from happening. Words aren’t enough anymore. The NRA and its money are too powerful in the political world.”

“It’s a terrorist attack,” Marilena Blair said. “That man that shot those people is a terrorist. Race doesn’t matter any more. As for his death, he got off too easy.”

“If they tried to limit guns in the States, it would be hard to enforce,” said Brady Doiron. “There are already so many guns out there, and crazy people like this will find a way to get their hands on one.”

“It’s so sad, horrible, and gut wrenching,” Lynn Ault added. “My heart goes out to the families who have lost loved ones. They need to implement stricter gun control laws in hopes to prevent tragedies such as this.”

Kerri Dool, a registered social worker in the Sault, said tragedies like the one in Texas can be especially disturbing for children, but wants to reassure parents that having open conversations with their kids is imperative.

“When we watch the news and observe these horrific themes, it can really impact us psychologically,” she said. “It’s important to have a conversation with your children about what happened, reassure them that they are safe, and that measures are taking place to keep them as safe as possible at school.”

Dool has been a social worker for 17 years and has spent eight years in education, so she recognizes how difficult this is on parents and teachers as well.

“For the parents, check in with the school,” she said. “Find out what the safety plan is at the school so you can really assure children and help them feel confident with that plan. Check in with classroom teachers to see how your kids are doing and tell the teacher that you want to know if they see any changes in your child.”

Dool adds there are several techniques that parents can use to help their children cope with distressing themes.

“I like to practice relaxation techniques with children,” she said. “Reading a cheerful story at bedtime or playing soft music to decompress for the day can go a long way. Try looking at different activities you can do as a parent to help regulate your child’s nervous system and their mind so they’re not in overdrive and feeling anxious.”

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