Advice for Parents and Students After a School Shooting

May 08, 2019

Dad comforts son

The shooting on May 8 at STEM School Highlands Ranch that killed one student and injured eight others has some parents and students feeling anxious, upset and outraged – which are all normal feelings to have after a tragedy.

It's important for parents/guardians/family members and students to be aware of their feelings and take care of their mental health after an event like this hits close to home.

Here is some advice for parents, guardians and family members in the days and weeks following a school shooting tragedy.

In this short video, Denver Health behavioral health expert Dr. Christian Thurstone gives advice to parents after a school shooting.
A few do's:
  • Do talk with your kids about what happened. A great way to start the conversation is by asking, “What do you already know about what happened?”
  • Do validate your child’s thoughts and feelings. This means reflecting back to them things like, “Yes, it’s confusing and scary.” 
  • Do gently correct any misinformation your child may have.
  • Do know about security procedures at your child’s school. For example, it can be helpful to ask what your school does to prevent violence and what emergency procedures are in place.
  • Do keep a normal routine as much as possible. Routines provide structure and reassurance for children.


A few don'ts:

  • Don’t tell children not to worry or not be afraid. This discourages conversation and doesn’t decrease worry.
  • Don’t watch too much new coverage about the event. This can be upsetting for anyone, especially children. If your child does watch the news, try to watch with your children so you can discuss what happened with them.


May is national Mental Health Awareness Month. This year's theme is "Why Care?" and encourages everyone to take the time to show they care about their mental health and the mental health of those around them.

At Denver Health, we treat people of all ages, from children and teens to adults. To reach out for help, contact our behavioral health experts at 303-835-0667 or visit our website to find out more information.

Categories: Behavioral Health