After a traumatic event, like a shooting, it is rarely easy to "get back to normal," but returning to the ins and outs of daily life can be especially difficult for children. Following such an event, children will be juggling all kinds of emotions.
How your child reacts to a shooting depends on many variables, like his or her personality, proximity to the shooting, and any connection to the victims. Your child may not necessarily have to be a victim to react strongly to a shooting. Simply seeing news footage of a shooting nearby, or learning that a friend or family member was involved could be enough for your child to raise questions and demonstrate any range of emotions, including fear, anxiety, anger, or sadness.
As a caring adult, your first instinct is most likely to comfort your child, and help him or her understand the events and deal with the emotions that follow. If you find yourself having trouble communicating with your child or you simply want the aid of a professional, consider utilizing the counseling options that are readily available.
Non-medical counseling services
Consider the following short-term, solution-focused, non-medical counseling options to help your school-age child cope with the events and emotions surrounding a shooting.
- Children and Youth Behavioral Military and Family Life Consultants (CYB-MFLCs). Since children often need specialized support during stressful or difficult situations, the Military and Family Life Counselors offer a program specifically for children and youth. CYB-MFLCs offer non-medical counseling free of charge to military children eighteen years old and under with parental consent. Contact your installation's family readiness center, child development center (CDC), or installation-based youth and teen centers for more information on CYB-MFLC services.
- Military OneSource. Military OneSource offers up to twelve free face-to-face, telephonic, or online counseling sessions per person, per issue. Trained Military OneSource counselors can help you determine which option is the best fit for your child's situation. Visit Military OneSource or call 1-800-342-9647 for more information and to begin the non-medical counseling process.
These non-medical counseling options are meant to address issues that do not require long-term, medical attention. If your child is having trouble communicating his or her feelings at home or school, develops behavioral issues, is having trouble adjusting back to regular activities, or is coping with grief and loss, non-medical counseling may be the right option.
However if, as a result of a shooting, your child has developed a long-term issue, you may need to seek medical attention. Non-medical counseling is not intended to address such issues as active suicidal or homicidal thoughts, mental health conditions that have required reoccurring in-patient hospitalizations, or for those who have been prescribed psychoactive medication or who are currently receiving therapy with another practitioner. In these situations, check with TRICARE to identify the therapy services that are covered by your plan. Your child's Primary Care Manager (PCM) can refer your child to the care of a network counselor or therapist if one is not available at the nearest military treatment facility (MTF).
Both CYB-MFLCs and Military OneSource counselors offer the professional guidance that can help your child cope with a traumatic event, like a shooting. The licensed and professional counselors may be the perfect support to help your child return to the joys of everyday life.