Dear School Leaders,
I am watching with horror the news reports of the school shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, CT. We all join the president in expressing our deep sympathy for the families of the children and staff whose lives were so unconscionably cut short. For schools with flags on flagpoles, I’d ask us to follow the lead of our president in ordering flags at half-staff for the next six days.
After an act of violence at a school, all parents will look to their own schools – the second home for their children – for reassurance. Reach out to your school’s parents to let them know that children’s safety is your top priority and indicating to them the precautions your school has in place. Some schools may receive calls from media asking for comment about school security procedures. One response might be that the school does not generally discuss security procedures because then they will no longer be secure.
Hearing news like this strikes fear in every parent’s heart, and it also affects every child in every type of school. You can help your students by providing resources and guidance to help their parents over the next few days. School counselors, for instance, recommend limiting young children’s exposure to media coverage of the shooting, but listening to and supporting children of all ages if they want to talk about the tragedy. Resources listed below offer more detail.
For many, our schools are the central organizing factor of social and family life, looked to to help make some sense of tragedies when they occur; whatever your school can do in terms of acknowledging the difficulty of the moment, expressing empathy and grief for the victims, reassuring children that they are safe, and helping everyone eventually to get back to normal routines is a critical role you have to play.
December 14, 2012
Resources About Helping Children Cope with Tragedy
Crisis Management Resources
Articles from "Safe Schools for a Safer World," the most recent issue of Independent School magazine
Ways to Help Sandy Hook Survivors