East TN parents cope with school shooting

12:25 AM, Dec 18, 2012   |    comments
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In addition to trying to figure out how to talk to their children in the wake of a major tragedy, parents across East Tennessee are also looking for ways to cope following Friday's shooting in Connecticut.

Monday was the first day local children went to school following the incident at Sandy Hook Elementary. Knoxville parent Misty Evans said it's been on her mind the entire weekend.

"I just imagine not having my children and not going to school and not being able to pick them up on a daily basis like I did today," she said.

However, according to Evans, it's a concern many parents have each and every day.

"When you're away from you're child, no matter if they're in school or at somebody's house or with a friend, you always have that fear because you're not with them, something could happen anytime," she said.

Psychologist Dr. John Robertson, with the Center for Family Psychiatry in West Knoxville, said a reaction like that is fairly normal amongst parents after a tragedy.

"It's healthy to a certain extent so long as you don't overdo it and become paranoid about things and don't want your kids to go anywhere," he said.

Robertson told 10News it's important parents converse with one another about what happened.

"Parents need to talk among themselves about this and realize that it's not likely to happen [a local shooting], and there are safety things set up to prevent this type of thing from happening.

Kevin Orpurt, a psychotherapist and licensed clinical social worker with Farragut Be Well, agrees. He went on to say parents need to be honest with themselves and let their emotions show.

"If they're afraid and don't acknowledge that they're afraid, they react in a way that may be disproportionate," he said. "Maybe they get more aggressive themselves."

Orpurt said people, regardless of the specific religion, can find comfort in their faith.

"I think that's where a lot of people get comfort knowing that there's something beyond us that grounds us in safety," he said.

Both men also believe parents should cut down on the amount of news coverage they watch regarding the shooting. They believe it can create added stress.

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