An unthinkable tragedy occurred not too far from the Colorado Springs area on July 20, 2012 when James Holmes allegedly entered an Aurora, CO theatre and killed and injured innocent moviegoers. Many parents allowed their teens to attend the Dark Knight midnight movie premiere that day. No one could have imagined the horrible act that took place.
There are children and teens around this country wondering if they will ever attend a movie alone or at night. Parents are also debating whether to send their teens to late night films. Kathie Snell deputy director for family services at Aurora Mental Health Center, said children are going to wonder “Could this happen to me?” She encourages parents to explain that random acts of violence like this are uncommon. She goes on to say that parents should continue with their normal routines and not dwell on the negative.
Snell says that keeping the lines of communication open is essential. Also she suggests limiting your child’s exposure to television and to monitor what your child is watching and the games he or she is playing. The stress and anxiety stemming from this type of tragedy will vary depending on your child’s age and development.
According to kidshealth.org, while it’s not always easy to recognize when kids are stressed out, short-term behavioral changes such as mood swings, acting out, changes in sleep patterns, or bedwetting can be indications. Some kids experience physical effects, including stomachaches and headaches. Others have trouble concentrating or completing schoolwork.
Lastly, it is important that families spend time doing something positive. Children need to feel safe. As you continue with your daily routine without incident it can reinforce to your child that they are safe in their community.
If your child has developed any of the abovementioned symptoms and you are unsure how to handle it, contact the local mental health agency, Aspen Pointe, for assistance.