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Dr. Drew

Driven by current events, "Dr. Drew" on HLN focuses on the human - and human behavior - at the center of the story.

Dr. Drew: A 'different realm' after Newtown

  • Allow the child to make sense of this in their own way
  • Let your children know they are safe
  • Allow the community to pick you up and hold you
Dr. Drew Pinsky says we need to gather together as a community after the Newtown shootings.

On December 14, 2012, a heavily armed man walked into Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, and opened fire, killing dozens of people -- 20 of which were children.

I remain sad, numb, troubled and disgusted. This was a day like no other. I think we have moved into a different realm after this tragedy. We have crossed over into a zone that I never anticipated.

We are designed biologically to have the kindest, most tender feelings towards our little ones. The ultimate purpose of civilization and society is to successfully bring children into adulthood and make them productive members of society.

What happened at Sandy Hook is absolutely unthinkable. I choke on it when I start talking about it. To me, it had a neurobiological kind of feel to it. By that, I mean -- something terribly wrong in the brain of the shooter.

Nevertheless, I know many of you are experiencing a wide range of emotions.  It hasn't all sunk in.  Our feelings are going to be chaotic and unpredictable.

Parents, if you have a child who was deeply affected, expect changes in their behavior over the next couple of weeks -- withdrawing or irritability, acting in ways that are not characteristic. Some kids may not eat much, have nightmares or even start bed-wetting.  That's all part of working through these sorts of experiences for a child.

As questions arise from your little ones about what happened, please keep it on the terminology that they can understand. This is going to be a long process for them. Comfort them -- be in tune with their feelings. I hear parents talk about processing feelings. No -- just be present. Talk about feelings. Give words to the grief and trauma, but allow the child to make sense of this in their own way.  Most importantly, let them know they are safe.

One last bit of advice I’d like to give to those in Newtown: Don't do this alone. There are tons of resources pouring into your community.  Use them.  Even if your child was barely exposed to what happened -- even if they were at a nearby school -- there can be massive reactions.  If you get professional help now, the probability of those reactions being intense or persistent really goes down dramatically. For those grieving, allow the community to pick you up and hold you.  For all of us, faith and connection to others can get us through these difficult times.  

I know it’s all so overwhelming. I’m still trying to wrap my head around this too. My heart goes out to that entire community. I will continue to keep you in my thoughts and prayers.

Right now, we need to gather together as a community, as a country and take action when and where necessary, so these senseless tragedies don’t happen again.

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