Experts offer tips for talking to kids about the Astroworld tragedy and how to stay safe at concerts.

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What started out as a thrilling night at the Astroworld Festival on November 5 in Houston turned to an unimaginable tragedy for eight young victims. While an investigation remains underway as to exactly what happened, per USA Today, here's what we do know: In addition to the young people who lost their lives at Astroworld, a sudden crowd surge injured hundreds more concertgoers just before performer Travis Scott took the stage around 9 p.m.

What Happened at Astroworld

CNN reports that 50,000 attendees, including pregnant partner Kylie Jenner, who documented the early moments of the concert on social media, were on hand to see Scott sing hits like "Sicko Mode," along with other performers. Witness Julius Tlacuapa recounts an "out of control" scene, with more accounts of the evening revealing graphic details of the stage rush.

Horribly, several victims in their twenties, and a child as young as 14, died. Mom Tracy Faulkner, whose teen John Hilgert was among the victims, told the Houston Chronicle, "Everything about that night was a tragedy." She added, "John was a good student and athlete and so polite. He was the sweetest and smartest young man." A 16-year-old named Brianna Rodriguez also lost her life in the tragedy. According to People, a 9-year-old boy fell into a coma after tumbling off of his father's shoulders and getting trampled.

Music Festival Crowd
Credit: Getty Images

How Parents Can Talk to Kids About Astroworld

While parents reel from the stories emerging from Astroworld, Yalda T. Uhls, Ph.D., a child psychologist and founder of UCLA-based youth group Center for Scholars & Storytellers, tells Parents.com teens are likely also struggling. She notes teens can feel particularly affected by this event due to Scott's popularity, adding, "Young people have more access to news than ever before and it's important to help them process the tragedy that happened at Astroworld."

Here's what experts say parents can do.

Listen and don't judge

If you feel unsure of how to approach the difficult topic, Dr. Uhls urges parents not to judge. "It's best to not assume anything and keep the conversation open-ended. Ask them if they heard about the tragedy and from where," she says. An example of what not to blurt out? "Your friends are wrong—that's not what happened!"

Texas-based dad and former educator Patrick Quinn, who is a parenting expert at Brainly, a free homework app, agrees. "One of the most important things to think about when you're talking to teens about any tragedy or heavy subject is making sure they know that you are an ally to them for any questions, concerns, or thoughts they might have."

When parents make it clear their intention is to listen, kids tend to open up, adds Quinn, who also runs the Life of Dad blog.

Help them channel their emotions

Every kid is different and reacts in their own way to a tragedy like what happened at Astroworld. Make sure to validate their emotions. For kids feeling deeply impacted by the tragedy, Dr. Uhls suggests that helping families of the victims positively channels those emotions.

If you notice your kid is really struggling, seeking outside help may be a good idea.

Talk to them about concert safety and crowd surges

While event organizers are responsible for putting safety measures in place, that's unfortunately not always the case. Parents can use the Astroworld tragedy as a "teachable moment," says Dr. Uhls. That's especially true if you feel comfortable with your child attending a concert, particularly a music festival, in the future. "Talk to them about ideas they have about how they would keep safe and suggest staying on the sidelines rather than pushing to be right up front," says Dr. Uhls. That's important because crowd surges, or when a big group attempts to move into a space at the same time, can lead to people falling and being unable to get back up. Crowd surges also make it hard to breathe since there's more pressure in an area. In crowded spaces, it's also best to avoid walls and solid objects because those can increase the possibility of getting injured.  

Quinn advises teaching kids to stay aware of exits at all times and agreeing upon a meeting place in case they get separated from friends. Talking to kids about drug usage—even second-hand inhalation—and protecting their hearing also helps keep young concertgoers safe.

The Bottom Line

Your child has likely heard about the Astroworld tragedy and may be affected by the news. Experts encourage parents to listen to their kids in a non-judgemental way, help them sort through their feelings, and discuss the best ways for them to stay safe at a big concert.