Counseling to be Offered at Schools Friday

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"The important thing is to understand there's nothing you can say to them or do to fix it or change it what happened, happened," said Dothan Pediatric Clinic at The Westgate Center's Licensed professional Counselor Drew Hayes.

That's Hayes' message to parents whose children were witnesses to the Dale County school bus shooting.
Hayes is a licensed professional counselor at Dothan Pediatric Clinic.
He's worked with children for five years and says the first couple of days are going to be very hard for students.

"They're not going to know what's going on, some of them will understand it and some of them won't. Some will be scared, anxious, some won't have any reaction to it," explained Hayes.

He says one way parents can help, is to remain calm.

"What you really have to do is just be stable for them and be as normal as you can to provide a stable environment where they can try to get back to normal," added Hayes.

Hayes says listening to your child is a top priority and let them open up about the situation when they're ready to do so.

"You don't have to force them to talk when they want to talk about it, it will come out," said Hayes.

Jerlyn McCleod is a child psychiatrist and says she's worked with children for a decade and says parents need to monitor their reaction.

"As a parent of two children I can understand that this something that will be devastating for a parent to deal with but if a child gets cues from the parent that the parent is really losing control then that's how they'll react as well," said McCleod..

Dale County Schools Superintendent released a statement Wednesday morning saying quote,

"Now our thoughts and efforts are with our children. Their well-being is our number one concern.

We are activating our student support services and have our counselors and volunteer counselors coming in on Friday to help students through their grief, including those who witnessed this terrible tragedy."

Counselors say not every child will need counseling but it is a good idea to have your child speak with someone.

Counselors also said it's a good idea to keep the children away from coverage and pictures relating to the situation... because it can re-traumatize them.

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