Today we are mourning the loss of two of our finest law enforcement officers, Master Sgt. Debra Clayton, an officer with the Orlando Police Department and Deputy First Class Norman Lewis, an Orange County Deputy Sheriff.  Sgt. Clayton was fatally shot on Monday by Markeith Loyd after she approached him for questioning in a Walmart parking lot.  Loyd was wanted for questioning in the shooting death of his pregnant ex-girlfriend last month.  Deputy First Class Norman Lewis, an Orange County Deputy Sheriff was killed in route responding to this shooting after a van made a wrong turn in front of his motorcycle yesterday and hit him.  Our hearts go out to these officer’s families and departments who protect us.  It is important for our children to know that even if there is increased strife with minority communities and law enforcement, we should still recognize and appreciate the dangerous job our law enforcement officers do sometimes without recognition.  Below are some ways to talk to your kids:

NEWS 13 interviews one of our Total Life Counseling Experts below:

3 Ways to Comfort Our Kids When Law Enforcement Officers Are Killed

  1. Identify Ways in Which They Are Safe and Protected.  Yesterday schools were placed on lock-down and today suspect Loyd is still on the run, our children may feel unsafe in their community so it is important for parents to identify practical ways their kids are safe.  Explain to your children your safety plan at home and steps Mom and Dad take everyday to make sure they are safe.  Have them speak to their resource officer at school and ask them about the last time they did a drill at school, what they were required to do.
  2. Have Them Make Something to Show Appreciation to Law Enforcement.  A memorial of cards, flowers, teddy bears and candles is growing in front of the Walmart where Sgt. Clayton was killed.  When people externalize their grief in practical ways such as this, is helps the grieving process to progress.  If you child wants to, have them make a card of sympathy or appreciation to give to someone in law enforcement they may know in their community or school.
  3. Tell them the Ways in Which Officers Help Their Community Beyond Policing.  With an uptick in intentional police shootings in 2016 and increased strife between the police and minority community,  it is easy to forget what officers do beyond just policing to help others.  Sgt. Clayton was an active member in her church and community.  At the Parramore Kidz Zone, city officials said Clayton was well-known for her work with middle schoolers. Orlando City Commissioner Regina Hill said Clayton is what every law enforcement officer should be.  We should point out to our children how officers make a difference in their lives in practical ways.  As parents it is also important to model the example of law enforcement officers in teaching our kids the importance of community service.  Even at an early age they can help out by donating toys, feeding the homeless or helping to pack meals for countries needing disaster relief.  Doing good for others helps kids to appreciate what they have.

We go about our lives, our jobs, our tasks always trusting in law enforcement to be there for us if we should ever need them.  Today as our thoughts and prayers go out to them hug your kids tight and let you kids know how much they do for their communities.  Allow your kids to ask questions and process their concerns and grief and reassure them they are safe because of your love and our community’s finest.

Author: Lyris Steuber, MS, LMFT is a Lake Mary Child Play Therapist, Teen & Relationship Counselor with Total Life Counseling Center. If you’re looking for Lake Mary Relationship Coaching Services or Lake Mary Child Teen Counseling our experts can be reached at (407) 248-0030.