A gunman opened fire Friday inside Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut, killing 27 people, including 18 children.
Students were told to close their eyes by police as they were led from the building—some were crying, others looked visibly frightened, as they were escorted by adults through a parking lot, holding onto each other’s shoulders.
As the investigation continues, parents across the country are becoming panic-stricken, wondering how they can move forward and feel safer taking their children back to school, a place that many view as a second home for their family.
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Joshua Klapow, a psychologist and associate professor in the department of health care at the University of Alabama in Birmingham, believes several groups, including first responders, need to be focused on moving forward. Newtown, Conn., recognized as a small, affluent town of about 27,000, may have had police and firefighters who knew the victims and their families.
Klapow states parents may be experiencing acute psychological trauma.
“People are absolutely in shock right now and it’s something that’s important because it’s designed to protect people emotionally,” says Klapow. “Parents may not be acting rationally. They may not be able to process information. They may not be able to pay attention or think straight. It’s a way for our emotions to shut everything down because the situation is so horrific we’re not ready to deal with it. “
Consequently, parents unable to cope with the ongoing situation need “psychological first aid,” giving people the opportunity to fully express what they’re feeling as the first step to recovery.
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