Managing fear of a school shooting



November 12, 2018 - 11:04 AM

Dear Carolyn: I have a 5-year-old daughter in kindergarten, and I am just a wreck every time I see news about a school shooting. I know there are daily risks in life (getting in a car, etc.) but I am having a really hard time with the possibility that something fatal could happen to her at school. We live in a state where guns are prevalent and concealed carry is legal.

I’d love to hear thoughts on how to deal with this anxiety (not looking to start a debate on gun control — just trying to play the hand I’m dealt). — A Wreck

Answer: Throw facts at your anxiety, because it is in fact irrational. Something fatal can happen to all of us anywhere — and does, eventually — but the likelihood of any U.S. child dying by any cause is very low. When something bad does happen, it is typically accidental; you brush past the “daily risks” but the numbers are much grimmer for that car trip than for any school day. School shootings are more terrifying because they’re outside our daily risk tradeoffs —such as, do we stick only to places we can walk, or accept the risk inherent in vehicle travel? — just as stranger abduction terrifies so many parents into taking outsize measures to supervise their kids, when the risk is much higher in the mundane and in people we know.

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