News of Alexis Murphy's disappearance is moving quickly through news outlets and conversations in the community. Emotions are running high for parents worrying about their childrens' safety and how to talk to their children about their own concerns.

As parents try to figure out what to tell their children, a counselor is sharing some tips for parents to sort through their own emotions and put the minds of their children at ease.

"It's just terrifying," said Andrea Massie, a parent.

Central Virginia parents are worried about protecting their own children, and helping them deal with anxiety and fear - as news spreads about Alexis Murphy, who disappeared so close to home.

"You start thinking about those things and how to tell a child without scaring them to death too," said Massie.

Licensed professional counselor Michael Garcia says it's natural for parents - who are surrounded by news coverage and community conversations about this tragic situation - to feel worried, anxious or scared.

"It's important for parents to set aside their anxieties when they talk to their children about this," said Garcia. "But also an important parent role is to protect children and to help children learn to protect themselves."

He says it's a parent's duty to take an active role in guiding children through understanding their reactions, and sharing with them what he calls a simple truth.

"The world is not always a safe place and it's not always a dangerous place," said Garcia.

Parents agree - it's important to maintain balance.

"You try not to get overly concerned about it because you don't want to live that way and at the same time you try to find a balance of how to protect your child without scaring them and scaring yourself," said Massie.

Garcia says it's important for parents to gauge their children's reactions - and not to force a parent's worries onto a child.