As news continues to unfold about the unthinkable and horrific school shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, we, as adults, and our students, may be seeking help and searching for answers. What can we do? How can we talk to our children about what we are seeing in the news?
An emergency situation is something we in North Colonie work every single day to try and prepare for and ultimately prevent. Our staff and faculty consistently go through safety and security trainings, and our students routinely practice numerous types of safety and security drills.
During the next few days and weeks, I know it might be overwhelming for us as adults to witness the stories that will fill the daily newscasts about this school shooting. For our children, exposure to these images and information can be unsettling and traumatic. I offer to you these few suggestions to consider how to begin conversations with your children and help them interpret the events in an age-appropriate way.
Limit the exposure.
The news is a 24-hour business, and major events are shown repeatedly. Seeing the scenes again and again might lead children to believe that traumatic events are an everyday occurrence. All of us, but particularly children, have a limit to the graphic images we can tolerate. Turn off the TV and limit exposure to images and sounds that may upset children.
Explain what happened.
If your child asks for an explanation to something they see, use language and words he or she can easily understand. Explain the basics – just what’s appropriate for their age level. For young children, what they see on TV they understand to be happening nearby. Help them understand that the news they see is not happening at their own school.
Your children will look to you for guidance in the event of upsetting news. If they are upset, acknowledge their fears and reassure them that you will do everything you can to keep them safe.
Take their fears seriously.
If their behavior changes after seeing or hearing about a major news event, they may be trying to process the information. Encourage your children to talk about what they are thinking. Hearing their perspective will help you decide how much information you want to share. Then help them understand that their fears and concerns are normal by sharing how you felt when you heard about the event.
Some older children may want to learn more about the event. It may help relieve their fears to talk about it with you.
Keep your regular schedule.
If your child is upset by an event they saw in the news, keep your day-to-day schedule as normal and routine as possible. If bedtime or leaving for school becomes difficult transitions for your child, spend some extra time helping him or her for a few days.
Look for the positive.
Talk with your children about the people who come to help those in trouble instead of focusing on the negative aspects of the event.
I know I share this sentiment with my other colleagues in North Colonie; every time we hear of a tragedy such as this one in Parkland, Florida, our hearts ache for everyone involved. I cannot say or underscore enough, the safety of our students is my number one priority as Superintendent of this district. If you have any questions today, or in the future about safety practices in our schools, please do not hesitate to reach out to my office or your building principal.
Superintendent Joseph Corr
Category: District News