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Supporting Children Through Tragedy

Sadly, as you are well aware, there was another recent mass casualty at a school.  While children, parents, teachers, the community, and our nation at large grapple to deal with this unfathomable tragedy, many children are questioning their safety at school. 

In the aftermath of this terrifying catastrophe, it’s common for children to feel anxious, and to question their safety.  They may want to talk about what happened, or they may be more reserved and quieter.  They may even resist school, or identify physical symptoms (e.g., stomach ache) to indicate their level of distress. 

Talking about what happened, in an open, non-judgmental and age-appropriate way is encouraged.  Answer your child’s questions to the best of your ability.  Ask your child’s school how they are talking about what happened, and what resources they have available.  Discuss with your child a plan should something happen at school.  Finally, if your child seems to be more anxious, distressed, withdrawn, socially isolated, or is experiencing changes in sleep, eating, concentration, and energy level, consider seeking out professional help. 

Here are some additional resources:

1. National Child Traumatic Stress Network School Shooting Resources
2. American School Counseling Association’s article library on Helping Students After a School Shooting.
3. American Counseling Association’s resource library on Coping in the Aftermath of A Shooting.
4. Association for Play Therapy Resource Corner 
5. NPR’s guide on What To Say To Kids When The News is Scary
6. Child Mind Institute’s library on Trauma and Grief including School Trauma