After 2 JCPS students are killed, psychologist offers parents advice on how to talk to kids about tragedy
Classmates, teachers and staff at a south Louisville elementary school are mourning after two young students were killed Friday by their mother.
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- Classmates, teachers and staff at a south Louisville elementary school are mourning after two young students were killed Friday by their mother.
"It was devastating news that traveled pretty fast.," said Sam Cowan, Principal at Gilmore Lane Elementary. "The children were sweet, kind, loving beautiful little boys ... gentle hearts, rule-followers, good kids."
Police said Avery Hooper, 10, and Aairden Hooper, 8, were shot and killed by their mother before she turned the gun on herself. A crisis team, including counselors, are now at the school to help students and staff.
"We grieve just like anybody else with the students," said JCPS Acting Superintendent Dr. Marty Pollio. "Our No. 1 role in this situation, as it occurred, is to make sure we support the family and the school here."
Pediatric Psychologist Dr. Bryan Carter with Norton Children's Hospital and the University of Louisville said forcing children to talk about it may backfire.
"Children will often bring these things up in an abrupt manner, and then they'll seal up and not want to talk about it anymore," he said. "Parents need to respect those boundaries."
Carter said there's no need to give all the details, but if the children talk about the tragedy, ask them what they know or what they heard in school.
"Younger children, early elementary-aged children, they are more what we call concrete operational thought: everything revolves around them," he said. "They're self-centered by nature. They're more likely to worry about ... could something like this happen to me?"
He said those kids will need reassurance that these tragedies are usually rare. Older elementary students and middle schoolers may need more of an in-depth explanation.
He said parents can have conversations saying things like, "A person who does something like this must have been very disturbed, very unhappy." He added that children who were close to the victims may need more counseling, and JCPS said it's prepared to provide that for as long as needed.
"We are a small school, one of the smallest schools in the district with approx 270 students," Cowan said. "So we have very much a family atmosphere in this school. Everyone is pulling together."
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