We dont want them lost in that moment: Helping kids who’ve watched videos of the Parkland shooting

Mourners in a prayer vigil for the victims of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting on February 15, 2018.

Picture: RHONA WISE/AFP/Getty Pictures

On Wednesday afternoon, a few of the teenagers of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, used media to bear witness a mass.

These children, who’ve grown up with smartphones in the ready, did what comes naturally to them shared their experiences on platforms like Snapchat and Twitter. The images, sounds, and remarks they sent to their Family and Friends quickly went viral, providing glimpses of what it is like to hear that a gunman to the entire world roam the halls of the school.    

Sufferers receive sympathy and prayers in return, could give updates to loved ones, and possibly even feel some sense of control by documenting their experiences. They also produced a record that can’t be disregarded or sanitized, forcing Americans to guess to shootings with the numbness that was political.  

Yet because their messages spread far and wide, it improved the likelihood that social media bystanders would in turn be traumatized from the graphic content, and made students vulnerable to the harsh conclusion of strangers.    

Rob Coad, a school psychologist in Los Angeles County and member of the National Association of School Psychologists’ school safety catastrophe response committee, says mental health professionals like him are profoundly worried about the intensity of the images shooting victims watched — and the impact these scenes are having on children throughout the nation today.  

Coad, who’s advised students who’ve experienced gun violence in school, says that young people talk about what they watched was different than what films and television depict.  

“They will say, ‘I wasn’t prepared for the sounds people made. I wasn’t. I was not prepared for the things my eyes watched,'” explains Coad. This was earmarked for individuals closest to the occasions. Now some of the filming happening has attracted those extreme moments into people’s minds and hearts.”  

“A number of the filming happening has attracted those extreme moments into people’s minds and hearts.”

Coad says it is very difficult for an adolescent’s mind to process what they are seeing during a mass shooting, regardless of whether it is secondhand or first vision.  

Tweets and videos included video of screaming and rapid gunfire. Kids described dread and the fear of watching a gunman kill classmate or a friend. A Snapchat feature even published a set of firsthand posts from the shooting as a “featured” story, where it might be easily seen and found by users.      

Aidan Minoff, a 14-year-old freshman at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, told CNN Wednesday evening that he tweeted while hiding under a desk to alert the people.  

“I was anxious and I just needed it (the shooting) to be known, it was out there,” he said. “And I started receiving alarms on my phone that individuals were participating with the tweet and people really found it helpful details.”

Another student tweeted, in reaction to criticism about using social media to document the shooting, that his classmates took video expecting to provide the authorities evidence and also to educate the public and “help make sure this will not occur again.”

Obtaining criticism on the internet is something which Coad says sufferers should not need to experience, and it may outweigh the effects of sympathetic messages.  

However, social media has given a stage to demand change from politicians and the general public to survivors. Multiple students have spoken unapologetically about their experiences, calling out, particularly, the conservative commentator Tomi Lahren for criticizing attempts to discuss gun control and stating “this isn’t about a gun”  

Coad thinks it is key for survivors to have a voice in the online debate about shootings.  

“This is an unthinkable time in a helpless position and also to have the ability to come out … and shift from victim to survivor advocating for what they believe is correct is so important,” he says.  

Bystanders, nevertheless, have a less empowering experience when they encounter survivors’ posts from the spectacle. Coad talks to students after a shooting about removing or limiting access to media posts which include information that are graphic in order to avoid others.  

Coad additionally points out that teens’ sisters tend to follow along and read what they’ve shared. It’s entirely feasible that movie out of a shooting could pop up in a fifth grader’s social media feed, which is why Coad advocates for attempting to shield childhood from viewing posts.    

Coad says that students understand and respect that, when the suggestion is framed around protecting others from harm.  

“The mind can become confused and overwhelmed.”

Since it is hard to recognize those who’ve experienced vicarious 24, limiting people’s vulnerability is important. While riding in the backseat of a parent’s car media posts about an incident in the hallway of the school, in their bedroom , they could have seen .  

“The mind can become confused and overwhelmed,” he says, adding that adults have a responsibility to “keep kids from getting caught in that loop where they continue to observe it and transmit it and comment on it.”  

When a child seems distant and loses the capacity to handle daily life, it might be a sign that they are suffering from the effects of injury. Coad urges those students talk about what they are experiencing to a trusted adult and to reach out for help. Those emotions that are unshared can become an overwhelming secret though some children and teens might want to keep their turmoil private.  

“We [can] fully acknowledge what’s happened and what they’ve been through, but also start talking about not letting themselves eliminate equilibrium,” he says. “We do not want them stuck and lost in that moment, and unable to proceed.”  

If you would like to speak to someone or are experiencing suicidal ideas, text the Crisis Text Line  in 741-741 or telephone the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline in 1-800-273-8255. Here is a listing of global resources.  

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