Tips for Parents and Teachers to Help Children Cope with Recent Shootings

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Article Contributed by
Chautauqua County Department of Mental Hygiene

The recent shootings lead to many emotions and responses for people and communities. Fear and anxiety about these events can be overwhelming. These events can cause strong emotions in adults and children.

In a message sent to educational partners, Rachel Ludwig, a Project Coordinator for the Chautauqua County Department of Mental Hygiene, said the recent shooting tragedies “are powerful reminders to be sure we actively support one another as we care for our citizens. We recognize that schools serve as critical support systems for children. We know that school staff will have personal responses to the news and messaging about what has happened, and we want to share a message of support.”

Ludwig encourages school teams to work in partnership to reduce the effects of trauma on children by recognizing trauma responses and responding to students within their classrooms and referring children to outside professionals when necessary. She offers the following prompts for adults interacting with children and youth:

Adults need to first deal with and assess their responses to crisis and stress.
Attend to, rebuild, and reaffirm attachments and relationships.
Try and keep routines as normal as possible. Security can come from the predictability of routine, including attending school.
Limit exposure to television, social media, and the news.
Be honest with students and share as much information as they can developmentally handle.
Listen to students’ fears and concerns.
Reassure students that the world is a good place but that there are good people who do bad things.

The Chautauqua County Department of Mental Hygiene encourages our community members to visit the following resources for support and information:

Chautauqua County Department of Mental Hygiene
https://chqgov.com/mental-hygiene
Jamestown Certified Community Behavioral Health Clinic 716-661-8330
Dunkirk Certified Community Behavioral Health Clinic 716-363-3550
Chautauqua County 24 Hour Crisis Line 1-800-724-0461

The National Center for Healthy, Safe Children
https://healthysafechildren.org/trauma-violence-and-school-shooting
This site includes resources developed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), UCLA School Mental Health Program, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), the National Child Traumatic Stress Network (NCTSN), the U.S. Department of Education, and the National Center on Safe Supportive Learning Environments (NCSSLE).

The National Child Traumatic Stress Network
https://www.nctsn.org/audiences/school-personnel
It has developed tools and materials to help educators, school staff, and administrators understand and respond to the specific needs of traumatized children.

Specific school shooting resources:

https://www.nctsn.org/what-is-child-trauma/trauma-types/terrorism-and-violence/school-shooting-resources
Federal Resources for Helping Youth Cope after a School Shooting: https://youth.gov/feature-article/federal-resources-helping-youth-cope-after-school-shooting
Guidelines from the School Crisis Center: https://www.schoolcrisiscenter.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/08/Guidelines-Talking-to-Kids-About-Attacks-Two-Sided-Onesheet-Format.pdf
American School Counselor Association: https://www.schoolcounselor.org/Publications-Research/Publications/Free-ASCA-Resources/After-a-School-Shooting
The National School Safety Center: http://www.schoolsafety.us/free-resources