Roundtable II: Coping With Tragedy

ABC News' Dr. Richard Besser, Rep. Elizabeth Esty, and Father William Hamilton.
7:17 | 12/16/12

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Transcript for Roundtable II: Coping With Tragedy
more than 70million Americans. That's health in numbers.UnitedHealthcare. plain ♪ ♪ may they all rest in peace. So hard to see the age of those victims. We're going to talk now more about how this community here can cope back with congresswoman-elect esty, dr. Chard besser and father william hamilton for the first responders. Let's start with dr. Besser. This school tomorrow will be closed, but everybody coming back on tuesday. How do the parents and the teachers talk to the kids here and then more generally, parents at home?Ht, you know, talking to kid, it depends so much on their age, their level of development and knowing your own child. Very young children who weren't in this community, you want to shield them from this, but in this community, when you talk about rebuilding and moving forward, schools play an absolutely critical role. It allows children to normalize their life. They're getting back into their routine. It also provides a very safe place for children to talk about what they're experiencing, what they're feeling, and teachers and administrators who are well trained, and they're getting training here will be able to identify kids right now, but also going forward, who are not coping well, so they can get this specialized service that will help prevent long-term problems. And, congresswoman, what more are you hearing from the people in the community, this is your community, about what they need, what they want right now? Well, they want time to heal and time to grieve. I was -- I'm a mother of three children, and I was a room parent in a first grade classroom, and I just can't imagine the grief they're going through right now, but in meetings yesterday with the wonderful first select woman, also a mother herself, pat llodra, there is a lot of focus on what the doctor was referring to, supporting and keeping these children together, keeping them with their teachers, allowing this community to grieve together. The depth of their grief is a reflection of the depth of the love this community has. It's a very special place, and i think it's important for people to realize that about newtown. And but you made this point yesterday, rich, you have to also be careful with these kids that they don't somehow define themselves by this tragedy. That's so very important. There are phases, and we're so early in this, but you don't want these children to become tragedy celebrities. You don't want it to be as they grew up what they're known for. They need to be known for how they play soccer or how they study in class or what they did for someone in their community. But if you're not careful, this can be the defining thing in their life. And, father, so often forgotten, the toll this takes on those who come to save, those who come to help, the first responders, and that is your job to counsel them. Exactly, the first responders are members of public safety. They do tremendous work for us and yet they're a parent as well, they have children. They're seeing this and most of the time they're responding to criminal activity of people who may be lifelong criminals. Now we're dealing with the innocence of a community of its children, of its future. And so as a result, they're responding to people that they know, people that they live in the community with, that they share with. I would imagine also innocence but they have to confront those who perpetrate these crimes. Exactly. They must be dealing with so much anger. It can be, and that's a real emotion, and that's why we want to be around so they can have a safe environment where when that anger builds up, they can express it so it doesn't take over them. The anger cannot be an impetus for how they act but rather a result of what they've seen and what they've had to do. Congresswoman, what more will you be looking to do in this community over the next several days and weeks? Well, to be support -- to have all the resources we can bring to bear working with the governor, the local community. There's been an outpouring of support from around the country for trained professional help. It needs to be on focused on newtown, and the father is absolutely right. The first responders too are traumatized. You know, they are parents. These are their loved ones, their cherished ones, so I want to make sure we're keeping them as part of this process, and when I take office next month, truly there's going to be much more work to be done to make sure their jobs aren't done in vain and do something as a country, respond in a way that acknowledges this is unacceptable, but right now it is the focus on cherishing the family. We have only 30 seconds left, rich, on this point of mental health and identifying those who might be susceptible to a problem, what is the single most important thing we can do? Well, I think access to care. There's so many people who either don't have health insurance or their plans don't cover mental health services or only cover it while they're a child. You need to bridge that so that if you identify someone, there's somewhere you can send them so that they're getting care. Richard besser, congressman esty, father hamilton, thank you all. Thanks for sharing your sunday with us. David muir with have the very latest on newtown

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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