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Kids may be struggling with the school shooting news. Here's how to discuss it with them

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Clara Reynolds advised people to answer their child's questions, correct misinformation, and hear their feelings out, but also to leave out specific details about the violence.

One Tampa Bay leader said it may be difficult to figure out how to discuss this tragedy with your child — but it's important to start the conversation.

Tuesday's mass shooting at Robb Elementary in Uvalde, Texas, came just as many children wrap up their final week of school.

WUSF spoke with a local leader — a trained social worker — about how to appropriately discuss this with your children.

Clara Reynolds is the president and CEO of the Crisis Center of Tampa Bay. She said it may be difficult to figure out what to say about this tragedy to your child — but it's important to start the conversation.

"Just because they're not bringing it to you, doesn't mean that it's not important to them," she said. "Maybe they don't know how you feel about it. A lot of kids don't want to upset their parents, so a child may be reticent to come forward and talk about it. That's why it's so important every single time something happens like this to check in with your child."

Reynolds advised people to answer their child's questions, correct misinformation, and hear their feelings out, but also to leave out specific details about the violence.

She added that you should check back in with them in a few days to see how they are processing the news.

READ MORE: What we know so far about the school shooting in Uvalde, Texas

Kids of all ages may be shaken up after hearing the news — and might be scared to go to school.

"I would absolutely acknowledge those fears," Reynolds said. "You talk about that this is a possibility that could happen anywhere. But we also have to live our life."

Reynolds says to discuss safety strategies with your child — such as their schools' active shooter drills and steps you can take as a family — to help reduce their fear of the unknown.

She adds that children may need extra support at bedtime, or help finding coping mechanisms for physical symptoms or anxiety.

But if your child's symptoms continue to last — Reynolds recommends reaching out to your pediatrician, medical professionals, or by calling the Crisis Center at 211.

Bailey LeFever is a reporter focusing on education and health in the greater Tampa Bay region.