Experts share ways to talk to children about violence, grief after Northeast stabbing

talking to kids about grief
Posted at 5:34 PM, Apr 14, 2022
and last updated 2022-04-14 19:35:34-04

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The violence that occurred at Northeast Middle School earlier this week is likely having a big impact on children around the Kansas City area.

The Kansas City, Missouri, Police Department said eighth grader and 14-year-old Manuel J. Guzman died after being stabbed by another student Tuesday morning.

Experts with KVC Hospitals want to remind parents and caregivers that everyone, including children, experience and process grief differently.

Alex Beineman, associate director of program and staff development, said when parents are talking to their kids about death, it is important not to use vague phrases such as "passed on" or "is no longer here," but to help them understand the reality of what has happened.

Parents should also re-assure their kids they have a plan in place to have their child taken care of should anything happen to them.

Beineman said one of the most important thing to do to help children, especially those who are younger, is to maintain normalcy.

"Whether that be teachers in classrooms maintaining routines, or families maintaining normal routines, that is what is going to really help a kid feel secure and safe is realizing this didn't change everything in their whole world, those routines that they rely on for structure are still going to be in place," Beineman said.

Beineman said parents should create a safe space for conversation about what happened and to let kids know they can come to them to talk about it. When they do, parents should let kids lead the conversation and explain how they're feeling.

"Some kids might not want to talk about it immediately, so I think making sure that we're checking back in or if maybe they don't want to talk to their parents, reaching out to a local mental health organization to connect them with other resources if they would feel comfortable talking with other professionals over a family member," Beineman said.

KVC has a list of resources available to parents who may be considering getting their child professional help.

For jurisdictions that utilize the Greater Kansas City Crime Stoppers Tips Hotline, anonymous tips can be made by calling 816-474-TIPS (8477), submitting the tip online or through the free mobile app at

Annual homicide details and data for the Kansas City area are available through the KSHB 41 News Homicide Tracker, which was launched in 2015. Read the KSHB 41 News Mug Shot Policy.