By Dannah Gresh, Founder of True Girl
See the end of this blog for five of the most helpful articles and podcast to prepare you to talk to your kids about mass shootings.
If the news I’m reading is accurate, there have been about 130 mass shootings in 2023. It’s only March. My mind cannot wrap around that fact. I’m stunned and heartbroken.
Your daughter—no matter how close to Nashville or Uvulde she lives— may be terrified. Or outraged. Or plain sad. Let’s process those emotions through a grid of scripture.
Whether you’ve got a kindergartner or a teenager, here’s what you need to know to process school shootings with a Christ-empowered perspective.
#1. It’s normal to feel fearful, but don’t let it control you.
“Fear not” is in the Bible 365 times. Once for each day. God knew we’d need it for days like these. It’s normal to experience fear when we hear about school shootings. Talk it through and identify with that fear when your daughter feels it.
And after you do, remind her that though we experience fear we do not have to be controlled by it. With Jesus, we can overcome it. II Timothy 1:7 reads:
"For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline."
Explore that verse together. Maybe memorize it. And invite her to tell you when she feels afraid, but agree together that you won’t be controlled by the fear but by the power and love and self-discipline we can experience through Jesus.
#2. It is right to be outraged over sin and evil.
If your daughter feels anger toward an individual who does evil things to others, that’s ok. Don’t try to dissuade her from that emotion. From school shooters to bullies, God is outraged over the harm people do to others. Give your daughter permission to talk to God about and with her outrage. Psalm 28:4 is a prayer of David. It reads:
"Give them the punishment they so richly deserve! Measure it out in proportion to their wickedness. Pay them back for all their evil deeds! Give them a taste of what they have done to others."
#3. It is good to be sad about sin and evil.
The Scripture records that Jesus cried two times:
- Once over the brokenness of a city. (Luke 19:41)
- And once over the death of Lazarus. (John 11:35).
What drew him to tears? The tears of others.
Now, it could be argued that in both cases our Savior was feeling personal pain, but the full context of Scripture reminds us that the condition of His heart was compassion and focus on others. And in the case of Lazarus’ death, we read that when He saw Mary and the other Jews weeping, he was “deeply moved.”
I think He was crying for others. And so should we. Maybe it would be helpful to just sit with your daughter and hold her. And cry with her.
Five Helpful Articles & Blogs For Parents Navigating Conversations About School Shootings:
- For advice on what’s age-appropriate to discuss with your child, read An Age-by-Age Guide to Talking to Children About Mass Shootings from the New York Times.
- For thoughts on how to start the discussion with your child, read Talking to Kids About Mass Violence from Focus on the Family.
- For data on how school shootings can impact a child’s mental and emotional wellness, read Surviving a School Shooting by Stanford University.
- For advice on how to trust God through unthinkable evil, listen to Gunshots in Cameroon from Revive Our Hearts. It tells the trust-building story of a family that was the victim of a shooting.
- For comfort and help rebuilding a sense of peace, listen to Million Praying Moms podcast titled Getting to the Root of a Lack of Peace featuring a discussion about the mother of a child who was the victim of a school shooting.