WISCONSIN (CBS 58) — As cases of gun violence continue to rise across the country and state of Wisconsin, demand for children’s books that deal with traumatic events such as school shootings has also grown steadily.
The United States is the only country in the world with more civilian firearms than people.
As anxiety and depression rates have also increased among teens, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic, educators and advocates say children’s books can play a role in coping.
dr Emily Mazzulla, a clinical associate professor at Marquette University and a mother of three young children, wrote a 2020 children’s book called School in the Time of the Coronavirus.
“What struck me was that there wasn’t much talk about mental health and yet there was so much fear that all the adults were concerned and so I think it’s a very similar situation in the sense that adults, they have a responsibility to protect children, are concerned about the safety of our children, and children are picking that up,” she said.
A librarian in West Allis told CBS 58 that there has been an increase, particularly in the lending of children’s mental health books. Many libraries even have their own ‘death/mourning’ section for all ages.
AP reported that “Book sales for young readers about violence, grief and emotion have been up for nine straight years, with nearly 6,000,000 copies sold in 2021, according to NPD Bookscan, which tracks US retail sales of print books.”
“You want to reassure the children that this is a concern and that their concerns are valid,” added Dr. Mazzula added. “We have a problem with gun violence in the United States, and that violence is happening in the schools.”
She said coping mechanisms like breathing exercises and grounding skills help build resilience. Although there is no one right way to deal with painful and uncomfortable situations, Dr. Mazzulla that the best thing parents can do is not sugarcoat it.
“I don’t think it’s helpful to say things like, ‘Oh, that’s not going to happen to you or your school because there’s no data to suggest that’s the case,'” she said.