By Stephanie Stahl

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — For weeks, the news has been filled with stories about school violence, people marching, lawmakers debating and parents and teachers talking about their fears.

These are heavy topics for adults and even heavier for small children.

Parents like Real Hamilton-Romeo might be hugging their children a little tighter these days when dropping them off at the school door. Her own daughter has had to go through drills.

“The first time at this school she was a little confused about what was happening but then I explained to her why it was necessary and she understood,” said Hamilton-Romeo.

It’s a tough conversation for young kids.

Dr. Lisa Damour is a psychologist and a CBS News contributor.

“We sometimes need to address the news.  But we don’t want to have our child losing sleep over events that are relatively low likelihood for them, but are still truly scary,” she says.

For children younger than six, Dr. Damour advises shielding them from the most violent news. They’re too young to understand.

Ages 7 to 11, she says children might have heard about these events already, so she recommends asking if they have questions.

For kids 12 and over, Dr. Damour says: keep the conversation going.

“I think it’s helpful to be able to say to the children, ‘You know it’s the job of adults to keep you safe.  You know and we work to keep you safe.  And you do drills at school that are designed to do that and I wouldn’t send you to school if I was worried that you were going to get hurt there,’” Damour said.

Real says she’s talking to her daughter and that’s making her feel safer at school.

“I think more people should talk to their kids even if it is a touchy subject. When we don’t talk to our kids that’s when the fear and anxiety comes in,” said Damour.

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