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Coping with Violence

This post was originally shared on May 25th, 2022, and was updated on February 14th following the events that took place on the campus of Michigan State University.

Pull out quote from Interim President Spitsbergen also featured in article. Quote reads "We are in a field where were have the opportunity to help educate, prevent, and provide comfort for those who are suffering or struggling in some way.Since the start of 2023 the United States has suffered tremendous loss of life due to mass casualty shootings. This includes the January 21st Monterey Park shooting, the January 23rd shooting at Half Moon Bay, and the February 1st attack on the DC Metro, along with many others. The most recent of these events is the February 13th shooting on the Campus of Michigan State University in East Lansing. Many members of our community and their families have strong ties to MSU which only heightens the emotions that surround each and every one of these tragic events.

Witnessing these acts of violence can cause feelings of anxiety, distress, and despair in children and adults. Below is a list of resources for coping with violence if you or a client are struggling, or trying to help a child process their own emotions, along with resources to support the MSU community. 

Coping with Violence for Children – For children, a constant influx of violent news can make the world feel like a scary place, especially when these incidents occur at school. Children may express that they don’t feel safe and/or don’t want to go to school. It’s important that adults in their lives are able to balance validating their feelings while also reassuring them that it’s unlikely they’ll experience these types of events.

Coping with Violence for Teens – Despite sharing many similarities with how you might guide a younger child through coping with violence, teens are capable of engaging with incidents of mass violence at a deeper level. While you should still provide reassurance to teens, you may find that they’re beginning to want to take action on their own. This may include independent consumption of media related to the events, advocacy work, and sharing their opinions on issues surrounding the incidences such as gun control.

  • Federal Resources for Helping Youth Cope after a School Shooting – Youth.Gov
    • Featured on this list is how to get involved with Youth Engaged for Changed, active shooter training, and other resources for older children and teens who may want to take a more active role in ensuring their own safety.
  • How to Have the Conversation – 1800Respect
    • While this website focuses on all types of violence, not just gun violence, it provides great insight into how to open the door for a conversation with a teen. These insights are especially applicable, since teens may experience gun violence at the hands of a peer.
  • How to Talk with Kids About Gun Violence – Psychology Today
    • Section on Teenagers and young adults

Coping with Violence for Adults – While adults may be more familiar with handling news of violent events, they are certainty not numb to the tragedy that these events bring. It’s important for adults to continue to honor their emotions and take care of  their own well-being. This is key to continue believing that a solution is possible instead of simply giving up and viewing the situation as hopeless.

Coping with Racially Motivated Violence – When acts of violence take place against a group of people based on their race or ethnicity, many are left to cope not only with the act of violence itself but the trauma of the reasoning as well. Whether or not we are a part of an effected group it’s important to recognize that these acts are part of a larger issue and to work to be anti-racist. While the resources here are meant specifically to help individuals cope with racially motivated violence, we encourage you to check out our Anti-Racism & Equity resources as well.

Coping with the Shooting at MSUWe recognize that the impact of trauma created by incidents of mass violence is even more acute when the event happens close to home and your immediate community is grieving. Whether you are looking for support for yourself or a loved one following the shooting in East Lansing or are looking to offer support to others, we hope these resources will assist in your healing process. More resources will be added to this list as they become available. 

As we mourn the victims of these tragic events we must also work to champion change. As Interim President Spitsbergen stated in an email to our community, “Even if we cannot change the world around us as quickly as it probably should, perhaps the best we can do today is help someone who is having difficulty here and now.”