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How parents can talk to kids about the Oxford High School shooting

Experts say there are ways parents can talk to their children about the tragedy.
Published: Dec. 1, 2021 at 6:45 PM EST
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LANSING, Mich. (WILX) - Ethan Crumbley, the 15-year-old boy accused of killing four people and wounding seven others, made his first court appearance Wednesday afternoon.

Crumbley was charged as an adult in connection with the fatal shooting Tuesday at Oxford High School. He was denied bond and will be held at the Oakland County Jail until his next court appearance. Four students were killed in the shooting and seven others -- including a teacher -- were wounded.

The teenager was arraigned on one charge of terrorism causing death, four counts of first-degree murder, seven counts of assault with intent to murder and 12 counts of possession of a firearm.

The shooting has shaken parents and students across Michigan. Experts said there are ways parents can talk to their children about the tragedy.

Rebecca Roberts is the parent of a student at East Lansing High School. She, like many other parents, is concerned about her child’s safety.

“It felt a little more real to us because it feels like those are our neighbors,” Roberts said. “It’s terrifying to think about. I sure hope I don’t have to experience that myself or that anyone around here has to.”

According to the National Center for School Safety, it’s important for parents to speak to their children about the shooting.

“Parents remind their children schools are generally a safe place,” said Chris Melde, with National Center for School Safety. “And there’s people there that love them and are looking out for their well-being.”

Melde, a professor at Michigan State University, said it doesn’t matter how old your student is, the conversation should be the same.

“Right now is a time when we should really stress students being honest,” Melde said. “Both in the response to this tragedy, if they need help, if the are feeling anxious.”

Melde said if parents have questions about how schools are keeping students safe, they should contact their child’s school.

Safety experts said the best thing to do is to create an environment where students feel comfortable talking about serious issues.

Kathryn Watkins has two children in Hillsdale Community Schools district. She said she wants to see something done to keep her children safe.

“It makes you wonder when enough is enough,” Watkins said. “This isn’t the first time I’ve had these emotions either. This is a recurring thing that keeps happening.”

Related: How Mid-Michigan law enforcement, school officials prepare for tragedies

Melde said there are thing schools can do to increase security without spending money.

“Maintaining a positive school climate, which really involves students, teachers, principals and staff trusting each other,” Melde said. “These are every day instances at school that sometimes can intensify if they’re not done quickly.”

The state of Michigan has an anonymous tip reporting program for students called OK2SAY. The program directs tips to the schools and many times, only parents need to intervene.

Annual reports from OK2SAY suggest that most of the time, school leaders were unaware of the problems being reported. If you see something you feel should be reported, call 855-565-2729, text 652729, email OK2SAY@mi.gov or download the OK2Say app.

Copyright 2021 WILX. All rights reserved.

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