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After tragedy, take time to heal

A Colorado Community Media Editorial

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After the horror that hit Arapahoe High School on Dec. 13, it's natural to look for answers.

Why did Karl Pierson do it? Why Claire Davis? Why this community? So many questions, so much pain. The answers, as with all school shootings, are slow in coming, if they ever come at all.

Discussions about guns, school security and mental health are prevalent following school shootings, and this one is no different.

They are healthy discussions to have, and eventually, solutions can evolve from them. For example, emergency response in an active-shooter situation is undoubtedly better now than it was pre-Columbine.

But today, with emotions still raw and Arapahoe students yet to return to class, we think it is appropriate to focus on the healing process.

The Arapahoe/Douglas Mental Health Network has some tips for parents whose children have been in traumatic situations.

"During times of tragedy, our children will look to us as their parents and caregivers to determine how they should be responding," said Laurie Elliott, the network's clinical director. "Therefore, it is critical that we take care of ourselves so that we may remain calm and regulated in order to support our children, our community."

Taking care of yourself, the network says, includes limiting alcohol and caffeine; talking with other adults and seeking support; getting enough rest; and holding off on making any major decisions.

When it comes time for parents to talk with their children, the network recommends:
• Encouraging kids to talk about it.
• Being a good listener. In fact, listen twice as much as you talk.
• Providing information in a clear, but age-appropriate manner.
• Limiting media exposure.
• Maintaining the normal rules of the household, like chores and curfews.

Take care of yourself and your children.

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