MEMPHIS, Tenn. — The horrific incidents that took place in both El Paso and Dayton this weekend have affected many people across the country.
But how has that news affected children?
FOX13 spoke with a therapist who said everyday violence that children are exposed to can have life-long effects.
She said as they head back to school, now is a good time to talk to kids about how violence they experience every day has affected them.
“Essentially, trauma impacts your brain and your growth and development,” said Kristin Landers, clinical director of Youth Villages.
Youth Villages is a nonprofit that works with at-risk families.
Many of the children Landers works with have been exposed to violence.
“When you experience a trauma, it creates what I call a ‘wrinkle’ in your brain. Unless you’re able to manage it or have some support and help you deal with that trauma, the wrinkle stays there,” she explained.
Download the FOX13 Memphis app to receive alerts from breaking news in your neighborhood.
Kids these days are exposed to violence everywhere they look: on TV, video games, and for many Memphis children, in their own neighborhoods.
While it may not affect parents – or maybe they’re used to it – kids may be scared and don’t know how to tell their parents.
“Violence is one of those things that has become normalized. If you live in a community where violence is pretty active, that becomes a new state of normal,” Landers said.
She said it’s important to ask kids how violent events make them feel, be supportive of those feelings, and re-enforce always that they’re safe.
“I’m sure every parent can say at one point or another they’ve been guilty of a slip such as, ‘Well, we can’t shop at Walmart anymore,’ or something to that effect. But does that sort of nuance stick with children?” FOX13 asked.
“I think so, and I think that’s the piece we have to, as parents, have to think about how we want to handle the conversation, and be able to say, ‘Yes, it does feel scary. I feel a little bit scared too, but I also feel safe. Look what police officers are doing, look what the community is doing,’” she answered.
Landers said it’s important to talk about how violence makes your kids feel at every age, and it might just look different depending on how old they are.
With adolescents, Landers suggests trying a different approach.
FOX13 asked Landers if there are signs parents should look out for.
© 2020 Cox Media Group