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Another school tragedy in Pittsburgh: How parents can talk to their teens

Another School Tragedy in Pittsburgh, PA
Another School Tragedy in Pittsburgh, PA

You say goodbye to your teen this morning and send him or her off to school with a “have a great day.” Never do you image that by 8:00 AM you are alerted that there has been a stabbing of 20 students at their school. You panic, go numb and run to the school wondering if your child has been hurt. Is seems that over the past three years, this scenario has become all too common. Isn’t school supposed to be the safest place to send our children?

Today in Murrysville, Pennsylvania CNN reported that “ A teenage boy wielding two kitchen knives went on a stabbing rampage at his high school in Murrysville, Pennsylvania,early Wednesday, before being tackled by an assistant principal, authorities said.Twenty students and a security officer at Franklin Regional Senior High School were either stabbed or slashed in the attack, Westmoreland County District Attorney John Peck told reporters.

The accused attacker was been identified as 16-year-old Alex Hribal, according to a criminal complaint made public. Hribal, who was arraigned as an adult, faces four counts of attempted homicide, 21 counts of aggravated assault and one count of possession of a weapon on school grounds, the documents show. Full article

Talking to our children about today or past tragedies such as Sandy Hook or Columbine is never an easy task. Many parents struggle to find the words to talk to their children about such senseless tragedy. Today however, we are living in a world where we need to make a conscious decision to talk to our children about school tragedies. With the numerous occurrences of violence in our schools, this uncomfortable conversation is becoming more comfortable for many parents.

Here are some tips that you can use to talk to your children and teens about today’s tragedy in Pittsburgh.

1. Become comfortable with your own emotional reaction before you speak with your child or teen.

2. If your child or teen has questions answer them honestly. Keep answering as long as they keep asking.

3. Limit media exposure- This only causes more fear

4. Try to reassure safety.

5. Teach your child or teen empathy for the teens that were hurt.

6. Monitor physical complaints and outburst of anger-all normal reactions to this after hearing such tragic news! If these symptoms are ongoing please contact a counselor.

7. Show lots of love, reassure safety and be compassionate!

Dr. Sue Cornbluth
Nationally recognized expert in parenting and childhood trauma
Temple University

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