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Psychologist offers advice on how to talk to kids about the Conn. shooting

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Buffalo: Psychologist offers advice on how to talk to kids about the Conn. shooting
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In the wake of Friday's mass shooting in Connecticut, many communities, especially parents will struggle to understand the incident. Students here in Buffalo and across the area may have questions, especially as they return to school Monday, and a UB psychologist says there are a number of things families can do to try to help children cope with the tragedy. YNN's Katie Cummings reports.

As the Newtown, Connecticut community comes to grips with Friday’s tragic shooting, many around the country are trying to understand as well.

Dr. Michael Cummings, a University at Buffalo psychology professor, says parents can choose to shield their children from information but with so much access to the internet, it can be difficult.

"It’s sitting down proactively with your kids, explaining what happened at their level, so they can understand. Knowing that they can come back and ask questions about things they don’t understand and probably having multiple opportunities to do this, this is not a one time conversation," Cummings said.

In this kind of situation, whole communities can sympathize and grieve. Cummings says an active dialogue is important.

"Having community venues to both discuss this and other tragedies and then having proactive plans as to how we prevent these things or how we react when these things do occur"

Cummings says children may have concerns about returning to school.

"Reassure them that this is why we practice things in school, this is why mommies and daddies have to sign in and out when they go to parent teachers conferences. This is why all these rules are in place to keep them safe."

In his professional career, Cummings treats many inmates and troubled youth. He says people in the psychology field are working to see how they can intervene before violent acts are committed.

"We’re getting really good unfortunately at treating them after we discover the concern but we really have to get a lot better at identifying them earlier."

Again, Cummings says parents need to keep the lines of communication open with their children and talk with them at an age appropriate level. He also says it's up to the parents to determine how much or little information they want to share.

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