SPRINGFIELD, Mo. — A mass shooting at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, has left 19 students and two adults dead. The suspected shooter was an 18-year-old who is also dead. Earlier this month a teenage gunman entered a supermarket in Buffalo, New York, and killed 10 people.

“The National Education Association and the Texas State Teachers Association are devastated by the loss of lives, and we stand together during this difficult moment, sending love and healing thoughts to the victims, their families, and the entire Uvalde community. We are ready to work together to ensure students and educators get the emotional and physical support they need to begin the healing process,” said Texas State Teachers Association Ovidia Molina and National Education Association President Becy Pringle.

The statement also stated the tragedy that happened at Robb Elementary School “underscores the very real dangers of a culture in which gun violence has become too much the norm.”

The news of the shooting will be difficult to avoid and many parents may be wondering what is the best way to talk to children about a traumatic event.

“My knee-jerk reaction was just, oh my gosh,” said Danielle Jeffries, a Springfield parent. “That could have been my daughter. She’s in fourth grade. Even though my kids are safe, it’s still a heartbreaking thing to think about parents sending their kids off to school like a normal day and they’re not coming home.”

Hannah Paul is a licensed clinical social worker at Missouri Ozarks Community Health. She said an incident like this can make children feel unsafe.

“Safety for kids is such a big deal,” said Paul. “So, anything parents can do to maintain that safety for them, keeping the same routines, and allowing kids to ask those hard questions.”

Paul said it’s important for parents to allow their children to express their emotions whether it’s confusion, sadness, or even anger.

“A lot of kids like to play out their feelings,” said Paul.

Paul stated it’s important for parents to find ways for children to express their emotions outwardly whether it’s through playing or even drawing.

The amount of information a parent should disclose to their child when it comes to a traumatic event depends on the age.

“For preschool, elementary age, stick to the fact,” said Paul. “Allow them to ask questions based on that. You can also limit the amount of news exposure.”

Paul said children are very concrete thinkers and can have a hard time distinguishing reality from fantasy.

“If they see the shooting on the news repeatedly then that can feel like it’s replaying itself in their minds too, so limiting the exposure to the news can help,” said Paul.

Children may not express their concerns verbally. Changes in behavior, appetite and sleep patterns can indicate a child’s level of anxiety. Paul also stated it’s important for parents to keep a check on their own emotional state as well.

Missouri Ozarks Community Health offers a range of services for month children and parents. To check out all the services the organization offers click here.