How to help a teen dealing with tragedy

Posted at 9:33 AM, Feb 12, 2016
and last updated 2016-02-12 19:44:28-05

A double shooting at a Glendale high school Friday morning has shaken up the entire community.

After tragedies, it can be tough to determine what feelings you and your family are experiencing, regardless of how close you are to the story.

The grieving process

The Dougy Center, The National Center for Grieving Children and Families, are helping to understand what to do in these situations:

If your child is grieving, remember it is a natural reaction to death. Helping your teens accept the reality is an important first step in the healing process.

No one grieves the same way, though. Any change in expression, attitude or mental state can be seen as a reaction to a tragedy. Some people cry, some get angry, some get quiet, and some may even cope with humor. There is no wrong way to grieve and reactions can change quickly--whatever the reaction, parents should be willing to join their child in the process and listen and learn.

Teens may grieve the death of a peer differently than a family member or stranger. Whether your child was close to the victim or not, the loss of someone at school can be monumental. They spend a lot of time with people at school and any change to the normal flow can be trying.

Support systems and communication greatly influence how a child grieves. The level of support, how the news was learned, how the incident occurred, relationships, experiences and development and more can play a part in how grieving occurs. In short, all different parts of the tragic experience play a part.

The biggest takeaway from The Dougy Center in helping a grieving teen is to be understanding, helpful and available in any way you are needed.

Where to get help

If your child does not feel comfortable speaking about a tragedy, be sure to let them know you will welcome their attention when they feel ready.

School counselors and resource officers are also a good outlet and are often staffed higher during high-stress events.

The Crisis Response Network says anyone can contact their Tragedy Support Line at 1-800-203- CARES(2273) in response to the Glendale shooting tragedy. A mobile crisis team was sent to a nearby Walmart where parents were initially told to meet for information.

Teen Lifeline says peer counselors are available by phone call or text at 602-248-8336.

The Boys and Girls Club up the street from Independence High School reached out to ABC15 to let us know that students are welcome to come to the facility as a meeting place. Staff will be available to work with those who gather after the situation.