Highland Park Parade Shooting: How We Can Help As a Village in Response to the Mass Shooting by Dr. Bethany Cook Clinical Psychologist

Highland Park Parade Shooting: How We Can Help As a Village in Response to the Mass Shooting

The tragic news of the Highland Park shooting has left many Chicago residents shook and traumatized. Especially on a day most families are together celebrating. The main issue: What provoked this shooter? How can we help as a community?

I believe this isn’t a gun vs. mental health issue. It’s a village issue, and here’s why:

  • If a child does not feel accepted, seen, understood, validated, loved or genuinely cared for they will cope by lashing out at others (mass shooting, bullying, harassment) or turn these feelings of hate, sadness, fear, frustration inward and engage in self-harm or suicidal behaviors.
  • A child needs at least one person in their life who really knows and loves them so if the "help me" signs are raised the village can be alerted and intervene to support this child ASAP for whatever they are suffering.
  • There are always "signs" that people admit seeing after the fact. They say, “We didn’t take the threat seriously because...”
  • History is full of individuals who acted in extreme and atypical ways toward their "village" when they ran out of coping strategies for managing emotional neglect and rejection.

What can you do?

Society plays a large role in being responsible for setting up and enforcing appropriate laws/mandates/regulations when it comes to access to guns. Period. Phone and tell your representative how you feel, what you want and if they don’t do something they've lost your vote.

Reflect on your family members, friends, acquaintances and make a list of those individuals who don’t have a large support network. Make an effort to reach out to them and connect. Go for coffee, send a “have a great one” text, invite them to dinner, give them a thoughtful card/gift. Make sure no one in your village feels invisible.

If you’re a parent, take time to reflect on how well you know your child. Ask yourself if these are any areas you could increase opportunities for positive connection. Process the recent shooting (age appropriate). Ask if they know any kids at their school they think could use a friend. Offer your child tools if they want to reach out but don’t know how.

Every conversation counts. Just one can make a world of a difference.

“A child or person that is not embraced by the village will burn it down to feel its warmth” – African Proverb

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Elisa Schmitz
Thank you for sharing your thoughts on the latest mass shooting, Dr. Bethany Cook Clinical Psychologist . We need change, and we need to come together to make it. What unites us is far stronger than what divides us.
Empathy is needed now more than ever. 🙏🏼
This just needs to stop.

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