How to help kids cope with Highland Park parade shooting


HIGHLAND PARK, Ill. — Fourth of July celebrations were shattered in an instant in Highland Park, as families ran from the parade and others soon watched what played out.

Talking about what happened may not be avoidable.

Experts like Rush University Medical Center Child Psychiatrist Dr. Louis Kraus said parents should first see how the child is doing.

“Parents need to see how normalized things appear, they need to see how their kids look, they need to see if they’re eating OK, if they’re sleeping OK, if they’re acting OK?” Kraus said. “They may want to ask them how they’re feeling, but if the kids don’t bring it up a lot, it’s better to let sleeping dogs lie than drudge up information.

But with everything happening so close to home, Stephanie Garrity with Rainbows for All Children said children can be very perceptive. So when kids ask questions about a traumatic event, the executive director says it’s important to think about the child.

“I think answering their questions as honestly as you can, in an age-appropriate way,” Garrity said.

Experts say to bring children back to the fact that people were there to help and that the child will be OK.

There were a lot of people there to help, policemen, firemen, paramedics who were there to get that person to the hospital, so yes they were hurt, but there were people there to help,” Garrity said.

“Even when this happens in your backyard, you have to reassure your kids that it’s going to be OK and things are going to get back to how they were,” Kraus said. “Sometimes there simply isn’t an answer to a violent behavior, you have to let your kids know that this was terrible, it happened, it’s not going to happen to them.”

Also for parents, be aware that this conversation likely won’t end soon.

“We’re not going to be through with this in a year, we’re not going to be through with this in 10 years,” Garrity said. “This is something that’s going to stay with our community, and all the other communities impacted by the violence, the same.”

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