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Talking to your kids about school shootings

Mother and UNC alum, Blanca Cobb talks steps parents can take to help there child stay safe.

GREENSBORO, N.C. — One professor died after a shooting on the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill campus early yesterday afternoon. A person of interest has been arrested in connection with the shooting. Not only is a college community in mourning, but many parents are also concerned about their children's safety at UNC and colleges and universities across the nation.

When I saw the headline, it was a developing breaking news story of an armed and dangerous person on or near the UNC campus, and there was a report of gunshots. I texted my children the screenshot of the breaking news post to make sure they were aware, even though neither attended UNC-Chapel Hill. When I learned the shooting was in a campus building and a professor was killed, it hit home. I felt a wave of emotion. Sadness and disbelief that a shooting happened at my alma mater, where I was safe and loved, I quickly realized that this could happen at any campus across the U.S. As parents, we have a false sense of security when we send our kids to college that they'll be ok. However, their safety isn't guaranteed. It's unsettling.

You should inform your kids of what's happening at other campuses even if they aren't students there because you want them to stay safe, pay attention to their surroundings, and follow emergency procedures at their college or university. This also allows an opportunity to talk to them about their feelings and thoughts about the shooting and their college's safety measures. Also, taking action helps you manage your emotions because you're doing something.

One of the scariest things about being a parent is realizing that you can't always protect your children. Most parents would do anything to keep their children safe. It's scary to think of the "what ifs." What if this happened to my child? What if this happened at their college? What if they couldn't reach me during an emergency? What if something like this happened on their campus, and I didn't know? One of the best ways to rein in your emotions is to realize that these feelings are normal responses to fear and anxiety. And yet, recognize that shootings on college campuses are rare. You can talk to the administration or counselor at your student's college for reassurance of safety procedures and communication with parents. You can speak to a trusted friend or partner about your feelings and concerns. Also, talk to your college students and share how you're feeling, which is why you speak to them about safety and awareness.

Share your thoughts on my Facebook page: Blanca Cobb – Body Language Expert. Write a message on my timeline, and I'll get back to you. While you're on my page, I'd appreciate it if you give my page a "like."

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