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Parents struggle to talk to their kids about shootings

Updated: January 19, 2013 6:12AM



As Chicago school children returned to class Monday for the first time since the mass shooting in Connecticut, moms and dads discussed how to control the news­ — which for some meant keeping their kids in the dark.

“These kids don’t need to know. It would terrify them and kids wouldn’t want to go to school,” said Gary Tom as he picked up his 6-year-old daughter, Carla, from Haines Elementary School in Chinatown.

When Carla caught a glimpse of TV coverage over the weekend and asked her dad what happened, he told her simply “Some people got hurt,” and changed the channel to cartoons.

“That was an isolated incident ... we can’t go into panic mode,” Tom said Monday afternoon.

Haines parent Ruth Shannon kept her kids — 5, 8, and 9 — away from news of the massacre but couldn’t prevent her 12-year-old from learning about it on the Internet.

“I don’t want them to carry that burden,” Shannon said. “They wouldn’t be able to learn, they’d be thinking someone’s going to come into the building and start shooting. I just have to trust the school system and teachers to do the right thing if something happens.”

Motioning toward the school entrance, she said, “There’s a person sitting there that can buzz you in, but a monster doesn’t always look like a monster when he’s at the door.”

Shaking her head, she added, “Some people are crazy. You just have to pray and hope for the best.”

Standing outside Skinner West Elementary School just west of the Loop, Nick Murollo said his 11-year-old son saw the news coverage of the shootings.

“I asked him if he was scared, he said ‘Why should I be scared, the guy killed himself,’” Murollo said.

“If he’s gonna get nightmares it’s gonna be from playing his video games.”

Other parents chose a straightforward approach.

A Skinner mom who asked not to be named said she sat down with her 10-year-old son and talked about the shooting.

“They’re old enough, and shielding them from it isn’t good,” she said.

The school shooting in Connecticut claimed the lives of 26 people, including 20 children.

Chicago Public Schools says it will have grief counselors available as needed while schools around Illinois review safety plans.

Contributing: Jon Seidel, Diana Novak and AP



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