Parental Anxiety and Public Violence: 8 Tips to Remember

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I grew up in the 1950’s and 60’s when there were no school officers or even locked doors at the entrances to the schools. I was a second grade teacher when events like 9/11 and Columbine shook the foundation of our country, and suddenly, we all felt on edge. I recall being concerned that school doors remained closed and locked. Eyeballing unknown visitors inside the school building became my way of life. Maybe I was being paranoid, but something inside of me said, “It’s now a different world.”

There will be violence in the world until Jesus returns. The media is pronouncing school shootings on a regular basis. What parent feels secure sending their child off to a public or even private school today?  So how does a parent go off to work or the do the many jobs at home when the anxiety of school shootings fills the air? Here are 8 things to remember that will help lessen anxiety over school violence.

1) Be Informed

God doesn’t always stop bad things from happening to good people or even innocent children. But, we can take necessary precautions. Ask your child’s school to see a copy their emergency plans.

2) Be Aware

Listen attentively to your child and their friends.  The U.S. Department of Education and Department of Justice publication, Safeguarding Our Children: An Action Guide, outlined these signs that a child could possibly be prone to violence. If you sense an imminent danger, report it to the school principle or proper authorities immediately.

3) Tune out the Panic

Turn off your TV and radio. Listening to and seeing the news reports of shootings will only increase your anxiety. Use this time to listen to calming music,  deep breathe, and focus on the good in the world.

4) Tune in to Reality

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention states that “Fewer than 1% of all homicides among school-age children happen on school grounds or on the way to and from school. The vast majority of students will never experience violence at school or in college.”

5) Be Realistic

Remind yourself that worry never changes the outcome of any event. Open the palms of your hands and give your worries to God.

6) Be the Change You Want to See

Do something proactive to be the hands and feet of Jesus. Join your school PTA or mentor a child who needs a positive adult influence. Talk with your local politicians about making mental health services more affordable and available in your community.

7) Teach Your Children Relational Skills

Start early to teach your child non violent conflict resolution skills. A great example can be seen here.

8) Say a Prayer

During the most anxious times in my life, the Serenity Prayer has helped to me to calm my inner fears. May this prayer help you to refocus to truth and provide peace.

God grant me the serenity 
To accept the things I cannot change; 
Courage to change the things I can; 
And wisdom to know the difference. 

Living one day at a time; 
Enjoying one moment at a time; 
Accepting hardships as the pathway to peace; 
Taking, as He did, this sinful world 
As it is, not as I would have it; 
Trusting that He will make all things right 
If I surrender to His Will; 
So that I may be reasonably happy in this life 
And supremely happy with Him 
Forever and ever in the next. 
Amen.

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Kathy has experience as an elementary educator, teacher trainer, adjunct professor, and has served as Family Resource Director for a major hospital. Kathy is a Kentucky Licensed Pastoral Counselor and is credentialed as a Registered Play Therapist/Supervisor by the American Association of Play Therapy. She is owner of a private practice, Path of Life Ministry, in Wilmore, KY.

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