Support grows as students prep for Monday

by: Kerry Kavanaugh Updated:

Mourners honored the lives lost in the school shooting on Sunday.

Throughout the day, hundreds flocked to Newtown's quaint town center.

They brought all they could to show support: candles, personal notes and flowers.

For many, this was their moment to honor the victims who lost their lives inside Sandy Hook Elementary School.

It was also their time to grieve.

"I can't even imagine. I can't imagine the pain and what those families are going through," mourner Dawn Catalano told Channel 2's Kerry Kavanaugh.

She, like many parents, brought her children along.

"So we figured maybe bringing them here would give them some peace," she said.

Kavanaugh found kids who understand all too well what happened and what it means.

"Kind of sad because some people bought presents for their kids and they won't be there for the presents to open," Daisy Beltran, another mourner said.

As the people and the traffic streamed in, law enforcement ramped up, preparing for President Barack Obama's first trip to Newtown after Friday's massacre.

"I have to think his public presence in town is going to provide some degree of comfort and reassurance especially to the immediate victims and responders," said John Voket of the Newtown Bee, the hometown newspaper since 1877.

"It's our job to try to take care of the community and make sure we are sensitive as possible," he said.

The staff at the Bee is preparing a special edition, its first since Friday.

They will try to encompass everything that has unfolded since Friday -- the pain, the loss -- and still try to offer hope to their hometown.

"It's the single most important media experience of my life," Voket said.

Atlanta-area parents prep kids for school after tragedy

As parents prepare to send their children back to school after Friday’s tragedy in Connecticut, child psychiatrists said it's important to reassure them that they will be safe.

Channel 2's Ashley Swann spoke with a child and adolescent psychiatrist from Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta who shared advice for parents to help kids cope with the tragedy.

Dr. Shamina Henkel said the most important thing parents can do is to make sure they’ve taken the time to discuss what happened, and let their children know the adults at their school are doing everything in their power to keep them safe.

Henkel said there is no way to shield children from what happened in Connecticut.

“You want to give them brief information that's concise and fits for the level of your child,” Henkel said.

It's also important for parents to make sure their kids know it's OK to ask about it.

“It's very difficult, but be honest with your answers. Be clear,” Henkel said. “Let them feel like they can come and ask you questions. Don't turn them off."

Henkel said children tend to personalize events and want to know why they happened. A question that, in this case, seems impossible even for adults to understand.

“The best thing you can do is say you know honey we don't know why things like this happen, but we're here to keep you safe and we're doing everything we can," Henkel said.

It's reassurance, Henkel said. Children need the most right now.

“As a parent, your job is to reassure them and let them know that the adults in their lives are doing whatever it takes to keep them safe,” she said.

And, in some cases, that may also mean limiting their continued exposure to the story.

“They can certainly get obsessed with the material and want to watch it incessantly, just as some of us adults do,” Henkel said. “You being the adult may have to set limits with you child and say, you know, this is enough."

Henkel said any child who seems overly preoccupied with what happened or worried about guns or safety for an extended period of time may need some professional help to cope.

Children's Healthcare of Atlanta has set up a special blog for parents following the tragedy in Connecticut.

For more information, Dr. Henkel also recommended parents visit the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry’s website.

Click here for the latest on the Connecticut shooting.


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