Talking to Children About Violence
Supporting Our Students, Families, & Educators
From Mr. Zack - Safety & Children First at FCRES
Today the American Flag in our elementary circle will fly at half staff in memory of the lives lost yesterday afternoon at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, TX.
I spent a great deal of time last evening talking to friends and family who called or texted me to ask about school safety and to share their sadness of the lives lost yesterday. I woke up this morning with a pit in my stomach and playing out scenarios in my mind about our school and our kiddos. I'm sure many of you are feeling that same "pit" and I am sorry that this is our reality.
Our primary goal is to ensure that students feel safe and comfortable here at FCRES. Some of the safety measures in place include: monthly drills, professional development for teachers and staff, and a very comprehensive school safety plan that has been reviewed by law enforcement and found to be of superior quality. In addition, our school resource officer, Detective Bradley, is on campus every day. We also have 2 elementary school counselors, a school social worker, and other school-based mental health supports to recognize and respond to students' needs.
I recognize that it takes a village to support our students growth and development. I ask that if you have any concerns about your child or another student to please reach out to me. Remember, if you see something - say something.
Mr. Michael Zack
A youth violence prevention program run by the Pennsylvania Office of Attorney General that provides an easy and confidential way to report safety concerns to help prevent violence and tragedies.
Helping Kids Cope with Violence
- Remain calm and reassuring - create an environment where children feel comfortable asking questions.
- Always answer a child's questions truthfully with simple answers. You don't need to go into more detail than necessary, but lying to your child or making up facts will ultimately confuse them. Eventually, when they find out the truth about what happened, they may struggle with trusting you in the future.
- You may be asked to repeat your answer several times. Be consistent in your reply, and realize that your repetitive answers are reassuring your child's "need to know" and building upon their sense of security.
- Children often feel out of control when disasters occur. Keeping with a familiar routine is very important when trying to reestablish the security of feeling in control.
- If your child asks a question that you do not know the answer to, it's ok to say "I don't know".
- Acknowledge and normalize your child's thoughts, feelings and reaction. Help children understand why they feel this way.
- Encourage kids to talk about disaster related events on their terms. Never force a child to ask a question or to talk about an incident until they are ready.
- Reassure your child that many people out there are helping those who are hurting. You may want to let your child make a card for someone who is suffering. Giving to those in need of support allows a child to feel like they can make a difference in helping with a terrible situation.
- Keep your child away from watching news stations and listening to radio where the disaster is being discussed and replayed. Sensationalizing the events that have occurred will only upset and confuse your child further.
- Promote positive coping and problem-solving skills. Remember - YOU ARE YOUR CHILD'S COPING INSTRUCTOR. Your children take note of how you respond to local and national events. They also may be listening to every word you say when you discuss these events with other adults.
- Emphasize children's resiliency. Fortunately, most children, even those who are exposed to trauma, are quite resilient.
- Children who are preoccupied with questions and concerns about safety should be evaluated by a trained mental health professional. If your child suffers from sleep disturbances, anxiety, recurring fears about death, or severe separation anxiety from parents, contact your school counselor/pediatrician.
- Strengthen friendship and peer support, foster supportive relationships - there is strength in numbers!
- Take care of your own needs. In order to be there for others, you have to take care of yourself.
- Advanced preparation and immediate response will help with healing and coping. All schools have safety plans in place that are continually being evaluated and updated. Explain to your child that this is a good thing.
Taken from Julia Cook, School Counselor and nationally recognized award-winning children’s book author and parenting expert.
This guide offers advice on how to talk to children about tragic events, such as shootings and terrorist attacks, that they are likely to hear about at school and/or on the news.
Dr. Edith Bracho-Sanchez shares how to have open and honest conversations with children of all ages about lockdown drills, school shootings and all of the emotions that come along with these topics.
Resources to help children/families deal with violence, including: Helping Children Cope, News & Children, Firearms & Children, Caring for Kids After a School Shooting, Talking about the Shooting, Restoring a Sense of Safety
Take an age-based approach to discussing news of school shootings with kids.