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'That fear is real' | Hampton Roads therapists offer tips on how to cope following school shooting

Kurt Hooks in Virginia Beach said sticking to a routine, filtering out unnecessary information and listening to your child can all help ease anxiety.

NEWPORT NEWS, Va. — Students, parents and staff are still reeling after two students were shot at Heritage High School on Monday.

Many of the students and parents we've spoken to say they’re traumatized and afraid to send their kids back to school.

Since then, police have been investigating other threats at schools all over Hampton Roads.

This means added anxiety in an already stressful school year. 

"People don’t know what’s next and so you know, that fear is real," said Hampton therapist Shardé O’Rourke

She said it’s OK to talk about what happened as a family.

"Start by overcoming the fear of traumatizing them. You’re not retraumatizing your child by checking in on their feelings."

Kurt Hooks, CEO of the Virginia Beach Psychiatric Center, said it’s a tough but necessary conversation.

"Be honest in terms of bad things do happen but reassure as well that there are people in the community that are looking out for their safety," he said. "More listening than talking."

In terms of moving forward, Hooks said sticking to a routine and filtering out unnecessary information can help ease everyone’s anxiety.

For Heritage High students, he encourages them to rehearse what it will be like back on campus.

"That could be very helpful in terms of, 'OK, let’s talk through this what this is going to be like.'"

On the other side, both said there’s no surefire way to predict if your own child could become the one making a threat or pulling a gun, but there are things you can watch out for.

"You don’t want to be a helicopter, but you want to be mindful. If you see something out of sorts-- magazines about guns or things that are out of the ordinary, social withdrawal, maybe aggressive conversations," she said. "What’s important I think is being connected with your children, emotionally and in physical space."

O’Rourke said the main thing to remember is that it’s okay to ask for help.

"These kids, whether you were at school that day or not. Whether you were in the classroom, you just got hit by a car. 'Trauma.' "You know, you just got hit by a car. You don’t have to get up and say, 'I’m okay.'"

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