Following Tuesday’s tragedy at Robb Elementary School in Texas where a gunman killed 19 children and 2 teachers, New Jersey will increase police presence at schools across the state. Acting State Attorney General Matthew Platkin has directed the NJ State Police to increase law enforcement presence immediately.

Governor Phil Murphy clarified in a tweet that there is no credible threat against New Jersey schools, but that the measures are preventative.

While there are no credible threats, @NewJerseyOAG has directed law enforcement to increase their presence at schools throughout New Jersey effective immediately,” he posted. “The @NJSP will increase their presence at the schools where Troopers are the primary law enforcement.”

Tuesday’s shooting in Uvalde, Texas is the deadliest shooting at a US elementary school since a gunman killed 20 children and six adults at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Connecticut, in 2012.

A Student Walkout
In the wake of the tragedy, Murphy called for state lawmakers to bring tougher gun control laws. On Thursday, students across the country, including teens at Ridgewood High School, showed their support for the victims in Uvalde by participating in a walkout to protest gun violence and demand change. The rally was a part of a national Students for Change movement.

Parents have been hugging their children a little tighter before dropping them off at school this week, and Andrea Barbalich, editor-in-chief of The Week Junior US posted some advice about how to talk to kids about mass shootings on the magazine’s Facebook page.

“First, know that even if you try to shield your children from this news, they will hear about it—from TV, from social media, from friends and classmates. As difficult as it is, and as upset as you may be, it’s better for them if they hear about it from you and know that you will discuss difficult news with them when it happens. You are a source of truth and comfort to them,” she said.

What to Say to Your Kids
As for how to talk to kids about the tragedy, Barbalich advised using maturity level as a guide.

“My advice is to be honest, speak calmly, and keep it simple. An 18-year-old was angry and went to an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas. He had guns with him, and he shot people. Right now we believe 19 children and one teacher were killed and others were wounded. The shooter, who was a student at the high school in the same town, is dead.”

She also said it’s smart to encourage children to talk about how they feel in the aftermath of this unthinkable tragedy.

“Let them ask you questions, and answer them as best you can. This gives you insight into what they are thinking and allows you to correct any misperceptions they may have. If you don’t know the answer, it’s okay to say that and add that we may know more in the coming days. Mention the helpers—the law enforcement officers who stepped in to keep more people from being hurt.”

How to Take Action and Support Victims’ Families
People have been taking action following previous gun violence tragedies. Alyssa’s Law, which passed in NJ in 2019, calls for the installation of silent panic alarms that are directly linked to law enforcement, so in case of any emergency, they will get on the scene as quickly as possible, take down a threat and triage any victims.

After yesterday’s tragedy, many began their own fundraisers for Everytown for Gun Safety, a movement of more than 8 million moms, mayors, survivors, students and more working to end gun violence. The group has examined gun safety in all 50 states, ranking New Jersey #8 for its gun law strength. For more information on how to take action, go to everytown.org.

A memorial fund has been set up for the victims in Uvalde and the information to donate is below and there are verified fundraisers that have been set up as well. You can also support a fundraiser organized by VictimsFirst (a network of survivors and relatives affected by previous mass shootings) to provide victims’ family members with cash payments. The group says 100 percent of donations go directly to families.

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