Does Media Attention Hurt or Help Middle School Students?
In the aftermath of the Sparks Middle School shooting this week a lot of students found themselves in the spotlight of the national media. Most approached cameras outside the school asking to tell their stories. Many counselors say it's important for kids to talk through trauma like a shooting. But Cheryl Erwin says - that all depends.
"Some kids do need to talk and others need to just process what they've been through. And these kids have been through clinical trauma. They have seen blood and their teacher and friends shot. And they do need to talk to parents and friends. But not in a public forum, in front of cameras."
Erwin has been a marriage and family therapist for more than 20 years and has written nine books on families and children. She says middle school students are at a very awkward age and are unable to process their thoughts quickly. And that the lure of a television camera can be a lure of the moment and not a very wise move in the long run.
"I saw some effective interviews done with kids over this shooting and I saw some very disturbing coverage. But I believe that each child will handle this differently and each family needs to watch for effects over the next week, month, year. If kids are struggling they may need professional help," Erwin said.
She said things to watch for include trouble sleeping, mood changes, a change of friends or study habits. And while social media plays a bigger part in their generation, she says too much time texting rather than actually connecting with people in person could be concerning.
"Texting is the way they choose to communicate. But there is no substitution for personal contact and relationships."
If you feel your child needs to talk, Erwin urges you to just listen. If you sense they need professional help she says realize that it's available.