Saturday, December 15, 2012

To tell or not to tell?

There is some more information coming out about the Newtown, Connecticut shooting. Apparently the shooter (wrong identified as his older brother in early broadcasts) was a 20-year-old with Asperger’s Syndrome. (I am not going to glorify his behavior with perpetuating the “fame” he’s been allowed by the media with the plastering of his photo and name all over the place.)

While his mental diagnosis is not hugely important, it could be very relevant in explaining the lack of empathy that had to have been involved in taking the lives of 20 first graders and seven adults. Asperger’s is marked by high intellect and low empathy and typically low socialization. In a period where people are searching for answers that will undoubtedly never be fully answered, and even if they are, not satisfactorily answered, having SOME understanding is better than nothing.

As a parent of a 5-year-old, I am struggling with how to handle talking about it. I’ve read conflicting suggestions by psychologists about whether or not to even mention it to a child so young. One piece of advice was to not talk about it and to keep them sheltered from the media coverage. Another said to bring it up because they will inevitably hear about it from their peers and they should have knowledge of it from a parent they trust before they can hear scary stories from other kids and worry about it.

In the end I chose to not say anything about it. I figured if no one else at school does say anything about it, it’s better for him to be sheltered from fear than to face any traumatizing effects. Still, as with so many aspects of being a parent, I am unsure what the “right” thing to do really was.

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