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Sunday, October 26, 2014

School Tragedies and How to Talk to Kids

Safety of students is one of our primary concerns at Esperero and in CFSD.  Friday’s tragedy at Marysville Pilchuck High School near Seattle may cause students to feel anxious and to ask questions about the safety and security of school. This entry is taken from one of my 2012 blogs that took place shortly after the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting.

Here are some suggestions:

1.  Limit students' exposure to the media coverage.  Such reports can make students very upset, especially younger students.
2.  Provide a straightforward explanation of the facts surrounding the tragedy.
3.  Stress the safe environment at Esperero and in CFSD.
4.  Return to a normal routine.
5.  Know that it is okay to feel upset or angry.
6.  Focus on compassion for the victims and their families.  

Take some time to talk and listen to your children. 

Two questions I like to ask are "What do you know?"  and "What have you heard?"  This helps us as adults to ascertain what kids know so that we can gently correct any misinformation that they might have.

Some language that might be helpful . . . "The events at Marysville are tragic.  But, in truth, our school is very safe.  Everyone who enters our campus is carefully screened and is wearing some form of ID (including our students, teachers, and parents).  We  continue to check IDs at the gate every morning, and to practice fire drills, lock downs and evacuations.  Teachers and staff at Esperero talk to students and make it their business to understand what is happening among the student body. Conflicts between students are constantly monitored and resolved very quickly by the teachers, counselors, administration and parents."

Thanks to RoseMarie Cress, our school psychologist, for her suggestions for this entry two years ago. Sadly, we are addressing the same issue once again.  
Please hold the Marysville Pilchuck High School students,  staff and families in your hearts.  Also, please reach out with condolences to the Tulalip Tribes, a small Native American community grieving in the wake of this tragedy.