SACRAMENTO (CBS13) – From coast to coast, the country is reeling from recent mass shootings including one in downtown Sacramento.
Health experts warn not only do those events impact communities experiencing such violence but also people from afar.READ MORE: 'Their Choice And Not Ours': Elk Grove Family Speaks Out After Sudden Turn In Teen's Murder Case
Situational awareness may sound like a buzzword, but Tonia Hernandez’s family is always thinking of escape routes whether at home or school.
Some mental health experts would say that’s a good first step to feeling empowered given how our country has witnessed back-to-back mass casualties.
The mother likes to think quickly on her feet.
“Nowadays, everybody is a target,” Hernandez said.
The parent of two teenagers has seen shootings trickle into what are normally safe places such as schools, stores and now public transit.
“With the shootings going on today, it’s just reverting to as I call it the wild, wild west,” she said.
She and her daughter started learning self-defense at Moore’s Martial Arts of Sacramento.
“It’s good to be prepared,” said Omar Tan, the owner. “It’s good to know what is going on.”READ MORE: Dirtbike Rider Ejected From Seat After Losing Control
Psychiatrists say channeling energy and fear into something positive can give us a sense of control over future events.
Otherwise, harmful effects could lead to Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder if people are seeing repeated incidents and constant exposure.
For children, the outcome is detrimental.
“Kids when they watch it gives them a feeling or a perception that this thing is repeating,” said Dr. Arash Javanbakht, a psychiatrist working at Wayne State University in Michigan. He also leads the university’s Stress, Trauma, and Anxiety Research Clinic.
“Basically, there are multiple events happening, creating a heightened sense of danger and threat out there,” he said.
Their worldview may believe nowhere is safe anymore, Dr. Javanbakht explains.
What can you do as parents?
He advises limiting your exposure to such events and having age-appropriate conversations. If you’re older, then also discuss safety.
Like her kids, Hernandez practices what she preaches by watching her surroundings.MORE NEWS: Sacramento Woman Ignores 'Do Not Cross' Sign, Hit And Killed By Car
“You got to teach them young,” she said.