Author: Larry “Coop” D. Veal, author, social entrepreneur, youth advocate, professional comedian and founder of Be More Positive
June is Gun Violence Awareness Month. Now more than ever, gun violence has taken center stage in the United States. With shootings happening daily and affecting people of all generations, it’s important to have conversations with our children to talk about what’s going on. Having these conversations with children can sometimes feel difficult, but there are helpful resources for parents to navigate these discussions. Rather than waiting for your child to see something on TV and ask questions, here are a few ways to talk to approach your kids about gun violence and foster trust.
- Create a Comfortable Space to Talk
Having a conversation surrounding gun violence may seem daunting, but it’s necessary. By starting a conversation with your child, you are creating a safe space for them to come to you, ask questions and share what they’re feeling. It’s important to reaffirm your child’s safety – remind them that you are always looking out for them and your role as a parent is to always keep them safe. Be honest about current events, tailor the discussion in an age-appropriate way so that it is not too graphic for your child.
Be sure to foster a comfortable and calm space where kids can feel free to ask questions. This will help you gauge how your child is feeling and allow them to get some answers.
Most importantly, be there to listen to them. Let your child express any emotions and feelings they may have about gun violence and validate their concerns. Even if it seems unrealistic, it is something that is genuinely bothering them.
- Promote Safety and Wellness in Your Community
The conversation does not stop with your child or in your home. Your child is surrounded by many other support systems in your community like coaches, mentors and teachers. While we wait for lawmakers to work on gun reform initiatives that will benefit our country as a whole, we can take action right now in our own communities to make a change and keep the conversation going.
Assemblies, focus groups and mentoring programs – like Be More Positive – are all great ways to keep the conversation going in and out of the classroom. They can introduce new ideas and solutions to help curb acts of violence. These types of organizations contribute to healing communities from devastating events and provide strategies to help us prevent these events from happening in our own communities. We can also further promote safety and wellness in communities by equipping educators and community leaders with training programs — which can help them address gun violence and leverage prevention measures.
- Support Intervention and Prevention Initiatives
While we mourn every incident of gun violence that has happened, we can work towards a better future for ourselves and in memory of those who lost their lives by this act. It’s important for us to identify high-risk behaviors so that we can prevent acts of violence taking place in our communities. We can start by simply checking in with one another. Asking someone how they are or seeing how you can be a support system to them can make a difference and show someone that you genuinely care about them.
Being able to understand the warning signs is another step we can take to stop an act of violence before it happens. Take the time to recognize if an individual is in a crisis during your interactions. This can be seen through impulsive or aggressive behaviors, withdrawal, threats or even pressuring others to take part in an attack. Identifying these behaviors and actions can help prevent an attack from happening and can help us secure the right resources to heal them.
Ultimately, it’s important for us to reassure our children. Whether you’re a parent, teacher, mentor or coach, we can be a guide to our kids and have an influence on them. Let them know that they can come to a trusted adult during difficult times. Remind children that they are important, they can make a difference and their voice matters.
If you are interested in implementing any of the above programs or resources within your own community, please visit Be More Positive. We’d love to connect with you and help bring change to your community.