NEWPORT NEWS, Va. – As the community struggles to come to terms with this incident, News 3 reporter Kelsey Jones talked with mental health experts about how to address this school shooting with kids.
Parents at Richneck Elementary School in Newport News are still dealing with their confusion after police say a 6-year-old shot a teacher in a classroom. The events have now left parents struggling with their own emotions and trying to find the right ways to speak with their children.
“How a 6-year-old can obtain a weapon, firearm let alone use it, it’s just unfathomable,” said Joy McManus, Mom’s Demand Action chapter leader.
McManus is a mother and teacher who is still wrapping her head around this tragic situation.
“This one in particular just feels so close to home. It feels so hard to understand that were now getting to the fact that the youngest of our students is involved with gun violence,” said McManus.
Friday, the unimaginable happened at Richneck Elementary, where according to police a 6-year-old student shot Abby Zwernera teacher at the school. According to police, the student is in custody.
Saturday afternoon, News 3 learned from police that Zwerner is now in stable condition. This situation is now prompting mental health experts to weigh in on the psychological impacts this shooting may have on students and staff.
“School age children especially so young process trauma differently than adults. They’re grieving in a sense because the normalcy of their experience has now changed,” said Dr. Sarah Williams, a licensed psychotherapist.
Our reporter Kelsey Jones asked Dr. Williams, “Is a 6-year-old even able to comprehend the severity of this shooting?”
“I would say this is without meeting the child, I would have a very hard time as a professional thinking that this child can truly the process the gravity of their actions,” said Dr. Williams.
Dr. Williams said this shooting involving a 6-year-old is a case like no other. She’s recommending parents to encourage their children share their feelings.
“It wouldn’t surprise me that it would take months or years for the impact of this trauma to truly settle in for those individuals,” said Dr. Williams.
She also said parents should have a conversation at home about gun violence to help them process what they experienced.
“We make assumptions that our children our innocent and they don’t know and if we have conversations, we will be surprised at what they pick up,” said Dr. Williams.
This situation is raising many questions, including how does a 6-year-old get their hands on a gun and know how to use it? Mental health experts tell News 3 they believe video games could play a factor.
If you’re seeking mental health resources, you can visit Dr. William’s website and you can find resources on how to talk to kids after school shootings from the National Child Traumatic Stress Network here.