JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Horrific images fill the TV, they're the faces of children robbed of their innocence. To Denise Marzullo, the executive director for Mental Health America of Northeast Florida, Friday's school shooing in Connecticut took the word "tragedy" to a whole new level.
"To walk into an elementary school and shoot children - it's just a different level that most of us wouldn't even think someone would be capable of doing," said Marzullo.
And she says now the second struggle begins. For parents, that's having to explain to children, too young to fully comprehend the situation, what happened.
"A lot of parents are going to need to sit down tonight and have these very tough conversations with kids that don't deserve to have to deal with emotions and stuff about this, but they're going to have to," said Marzullo.
She says if parents pretend like it didn't happen, that can be even scarier for kids because they're going to hear about it. And in situations of this magnitude, it's always best if it comes from them.
"It wasn't the boogie-man. It wasn't a monster. It was an actual person that did this. The chances of it happening in somebody's school are miniscule, but there are people out there who are unfortunately evil," said Marzullo, "That's going to be really hard for kids to understand, but we have to have those conversations and talk to our children."
Marzullo says one of the best things local parents can do is reassure their children that, despite these horrific images, it is safe to go back to school.
Visit Mental Health America of Northeast Florida's web site
for ways to cope with tragedies or recognize the signs and symptoms of a mental health problem. Or, call (904) 738-8420