People all across the world are in mourning for those children and adults who were brutally shot on Friday, December 14th at the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut.
The horrific tragedy is incomprehensible for us as adults, but for school children around the globe who have seen or heard about it, the news may be frightening. Children may have seen the reports on the news or heard about it through hushed tones as adults speak to one another while trying to make sense. The thought that their beloved school might not be safe could cause fear, anxiety or confusion or other emotions.
How should teachers and parents help our children cope? Students will most likely bring up the subject on Monday. My 10 year olds will no doubt have questions or comments which they will not be afraid to voice. I might ask the students what they know before discussing anything. I will reassure them about the safeguards we have in place in our school. Speaking to them openly but cautiously is suggested by the Sidran Institute. Check out their suggestions and tips for helping to manage children's fears. It might also be a good idea to minimize the media coverage at this time. Children do not need daily reminders about the event.
Other resources that may help:
- National Association of School Phycologists- simple steps to support children.
- New York Times: How Not to Talk to Your Children About the Sandy Hook Shooting.
- SAMHSA: A free 4-page download with tips/suggestions broken into age groups.
- Principles of Working with Traumatized Children by Dr. Bruce Perry (via Scholastic) "Don't be afraid to talk about it...children do not benefit from putting it out of their minds."
- CNN Health - Article "Support Crucial for Kids After Trauma"
On a a side note: my thoughts and prayers are with all those affected by this tragedy and I applaud the efforts of the teachers and staff at the Sandy Hook Elementary School for their bravery and dedication.