Column: 5 tips on talking to your kids about mass shootings

'Raising Prescott'

Most of America woke up Monday morning looking to begin their work week with a cup of coffee and breakfast only to discover the news of a 64-year-old man who chose to smash out his hotel window from the 32nd floor with a hammer and open fire onto a crowd of 22,000 concertgoers below.

By the time shooting finally ceased sometime after 10:15 p.m. Sunday night, Las Vegas was in a frenzy.

Flights into the city were diverted and McCarran International Airport was even temporarily shut down.

Police agencies lined the famous Las Vegas strip for miles, closing off access to Mandalay Bay and surrounding resorts.

The shooter, Stephen Paddock, a retired accountant from Mesquite, Nevada, claimed the lives of 59 people and injured 500 more that night prior to turning the gun on himself just before police broke his door down. More lives may be lost in the coming days as doctors do their best to treat the wounded.

Officers found 23 guns, some with scopes, in his hotel room, in addition to a cache of weapons and explosives at his home. Authorities believe he acted alone in committing the deadliest mass shooting on U.S. soil in modern history.

So as parents, what do we do with all of this information? How do we digest it and approach our children while trying to protect them at the same time?

Here are five tips to help:

1) Think about what you want to say … Read all that you can about the event in question, talk to other parents, friends or co-workers and formulate basic comments you’ll share.

2) What do they know? … Speak with your children, ask what they’ve heard and then just listen. You’ll be surprised what they have to say, or how much they already know.

3) Speak the truth … There’s no need to give any graphic details, just share the facts at a level that’s understandable to them.

4) Make them feel safe … Once the conversation comes to an end, however long it may be, tell them you work very hard to keep them safe and will always watch out for them.

5) Be there for them … Like all kids, they will likely have questions later about the situation, or they’ll hear something new at school and want to know what it means. Be there for them, because being there is a big part of making them feel safe and secure.

Brian M. Bergner Jr. is associate sports editor and a columnist for The Daily Courier. Follow him on Twitter, Instagram and SoundCloud at @SportsWriter52, or on Facebook at @SportsAboveTheFold. Reach him at bbergner@prescottaz.com or 928-445-3333, ext. 1106.