Psychologist suggests to talk to kids, challenge biases after string of accidents turned shootings

Lileana Pearson Image
Friday, April 21, 2023
Psychologist suggests talking to kids about accidents turned shootings
In the last few days, multiple people have been shot for being in the wrong place. Now, an expert addresses the spike and how to talk to your kids.

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- We have seen common mistakes getting uncommon and dangerous reactions in four separate shootings.

In the Austin area, Payton Washington, a Montgomery County native, was shot following cheer practice after police say a teammate opened the door to the wrong car in a parking lot, and the man inside opened fire.

In Missouri, an 84-year-old man is facing charges for allegedly shooting 16-year-old honors student Ralph Yarl, who was trying to pick up his brothers and rang the doorbell to the wrong house.

In upstate New York, Kaylin Gillis was shot and killed after she and her friends drove down the wrong driveway. They were trying to turn around when shots were fired.

As these headlines dominate news coverage, families and clients have been asking psychologist and author of the book "Has Your Child Been Traumatized?" Melissa Goldberg Mintz, what is going on in our country right now?

"Even though these events are undoubtedly terrifying and horrible, what we know is that they are still very rare," Goldberg Mintz said.

She said what we should focus on is how we handle the information and feelings it brings up. Especially for young people who may see themselves reflected in the victims at the center of the cases.

"Make space for their feelings. And if they are feeling scared and they express that they are fearful, to normalize those feelings," Goldberg Mintz said.

She said asking your child what they have heard about the story so far can help open conversation and clear up any misconceptions they might have about the case. It's also a good idea to limit their news consumption and cut back on true crime shows.

"It is normal, what they're feeling," Goldberg Mintz said.

She said for teens and adults, it's important to recognize when stress and fear are preventing you from living a full life.

"These are things we really want to be aware of because we don't want fear to constrain our lives," Goldberg Mintz said.

It may also be worth looking inward.

"I think people underestimate the idea that they could be the perpetrator in a situation like that," Goldberg Mintz said.

While it's a good idea to practice caution in dangerous situations because of what is happening nationwide, let's take a moment to reflect on how we would react if a stranger approached us.

Would we shoot?

"Maybe something along the lines of try to be aware of your biases in situations where you feel unsafe," Goldberg Mintz said.

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