LANSING, Mich. (WLNS) – Tuesday was an emotional day for hundreds of families across Michigan after a major scare at Okemas High School, Jackson High School and six other districts.
Dozens of police surrounded the buildings on reports of an active shooting at the schools.
Those reports turned out to be false, but the fear and stress of that day is still very real.
“There is no other feeling than just fear. You are filled with fear and try to be as safe as possible. And then you think the people you love are in danger, and it’s just a million thoughts going through an hour,” said Zachary Barker, a junior at Okemos High School.
Barker was locked in a classroom while police searched the school for a man they said might be an active shooter.
“Honestly, I’m a little shocked, I thought it was a blocking practice,” senior Ethan Hammond said.
Although the threat was fake, psychology professor Jesse Borrelli says the lingering emotions can be very real.
“Everyone in this situation has a strong reaction, but it sends a very important signal to talk to your children. It tells them that it’s okay to talk about these things. That there is a space to talk about these things and their parents are people they can talk to about these things,” she said.
Borelli suggests asking your child what they know about the traumatic event. She says to clear up any rumors in a calm, reassuring way and let them know that there are plans for such tests.
But the conversation should not stop there. Borelli says checking in a few weeks can be as easy as talking in the car.
“It’s also a good idea to be prepared for when they bring it up and be prepared to respond,” Borelli said.
Jodi Nelson, a local youth services coordinator, says these conversations can be difficult, especially if your teen doesn’t feel like talking.
“Because we want to respect the autonomy of the kids, but we also want to make sure they know we’re here. So sometimes you just have to calm them down,” Nelson said.
He says students can help other students work through trauma together. And even take your problems to a trusted adult at school.
“If they’re worried about a friend and that friend doesn’t want to talk to anyone, they might need to talk to someone and let them know they’re worried about their friend.”
All of these experts argue that parents should also find time for themselves and examine their own needs.
Getting back to your normal routine as soon as possible and basic things like getting enough sleep can help process the situation, Nelson says.