Posted on December 14, 2012 at 10:09 PM
Friday, Dec 14 at 10:41 PM
Monica Hernandez / Eyewitness News
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org | Twitter: @mhernandezwwl
NEW ORLEANS – A horrific shooting at a Connecticut elementary school is sending shock waves across the nation.
In the New Orleans metro area, some parents and students say they're struggling to come to terms with the tragedy. Experts say even though the crime was miles away, it can still have a big impact on local kids.
Dibert Elementary and Middle School in Mid-City held a moment of silence and solidarity before students were released Friday afternoon to honor those killed in at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newton, CT.
“It's so scary, it's so scary,” said Sherry Barkman. “I've been trying to push it in the back of my mind and not think about it because it's just so horrible. And it's something that just keeps happening.”
The death toll was 28, including the shooter and his mother, a teacher at Sandy Hook Elementary who was found dead in her home. 20 of those killed were young children.
“We were actually driving in the car and my 13-year-old pulled it up on the Internet so that's how we saw everything and heard,” said Tabitha Brumfield outside Dibert Elementary. “My (9-year-old ) daughter actually made a statement like ‘Mom, I'm scared to go to school.’”
Psychologists say traumatic events like this shooting can have a big impact on kids, even if they're thousands of miles away from the crime scene.
“Nightmares, having difficulty sleeping, symptoms of anxiety,” said Dr. Carl Weems, UNO psychology professor.
And with the Internet making information more easily accessible to young people, experts say it's important to talk to your children about their feelings.
“Right now it's just really making the kids feel safe and secure,” said Weems.
School officials across the metro area say they're doing what they can to make sure students are safe, from reviewing their security procedures to making sure security guards are on alert.
“We do everything we can to help minimize the impact as much as we can and to help ensure that we provide a safe environment for our students,” said Interim Superintendent Stan Smith, Orleans Parish School Board.
Meanwhile, parents, students ,and teachers across the metro area continue to deal with their own shock and grief as they pray for the families of those killed.
“I feel that we have to watch our children really closely now because too many things like this happen,” said Lynn Gutterman, a grandparent.
Smith said schools run by the Orleans Parish School Board are equipped with security guards and cameras. Jefferson Parish School officials said sheriff's deputies are ready to provide assistance if needed.
Both Jefferson and Orleans parish public schools have counselors on staff.