Emergency Preparedness - Resources
Schools are one of the safest places for children and youth during the school day, and an important place for them to receive support and return to normalcy. Communication and collaboration among schools, parents, and communities is critical to ensure that our students continue to view schools as safe, caring, and supportive environments. Further, how adults react to this tragedy can shape the way children and youth react and their perceptions of safety.
Educators can reinforce students’ sense of safety by making classrooms predictable and welcoming, providing access to supports as needed. Families are encouraged to spend time together, validate children’s feelings, ask for help as needed, and find calm and relaxing activities to do at home. It is very important to limit children’s exposure to media coverage, particularly for young children. If children are watching the news or accessing information online, parents and caregivers should be available to talk to their children about it.
Families and educators will serve on the frontline of helping children understand and cope with this violence and loss of life. Most children and youth are resilient and will cope well with the support and caring of their families, teachers, friends, and other caring adults. However, young children may have particular difficulty understanding and describing their feelings and emotions. Some tips to help children deal with the aftermath of the school shooting include:
- Provide a developmentally appropriate, clear, and straightforward explanation of the event.
- Return to normalcy and routine to the best extent possible while maintaining flexibility
- Let children know it’s okay to feel upset or angry
- Be a good listener and observer
- Focus on resiliency as well as the compassion of others
This is an extremely important time to reinforce children’s natural resilience and emphasize the preventive steps that schools take to maintain a safe and caring school environment each and every day. In light of the tragic event that occurred at Sandy Hook Elementary School, Newtown CT, we would like to provide the following resources to assist in any discussions that you might deem appropriate.
U.S. Department of Education: http://content.govdelivery.com/bulletins/gd/USED-6291f1
Center for Safe Schools and Communities: http://www.safeschools.info/
Crisis Management Institute for helping children and adults cope with tragedy: www.cmionline.org
Helping Youth and Children Recover from Traumatic Events
A listing of resources to help cope with the aftermath of a tragedy: http://www.rems.ed.gov/HelpingYouthandChildrenRecoverFromTraumaticEvents.aspx
National Association of School Psychologists
“A National Tragedy: Helping Children Cope"
“Talking to Children About Violence: Information for Parents and Educators” http://www.nasponline.org/resources/handouts/revisedPDFs/talkingviolence.pdf
National Child Traumatic Stress Network (NCTSN) http://www.nctsn.org
To save time right now, professionals can access excellent information in one place by going to www.nctsn.org/trauma-types/terrorism; it has a very comprehensive list of terrorism-specific resources. One document that might be good for school meetings is 12 Core Concepts for Understanding Traumatic Stress.
Ready Campaign FEMA www.ready.gov
“Protect and Connect: Psychological First Aid for Teachers and Schools”
Resources from the American School Counselor Association
Includes webinars, web sites, documents and publications.