Taken from National Association of School Psychologists:
It is important to keep in mind that a tragic or catastrophic event is rare. 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 mental health supports as needed, and connecting families with other available resources after school hours. 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 today’s 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
* Provide various ways for children to express emotion, either through journaling, writing letters, talking, making a collage, or music
* 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 can take to maintain a safe and caring school environment.