Yesterday's terrible events in Parkland, Florida, the 8th shooting in 2018 that resulted in injury or death, remind us that we must not let these traumatic events become "normalized," despite their frequency. We all need to pause to think about what we should communicate with our children when they ask.
Questions on your mind might be: What should I say? What do my children need to know? What has St. Anne's done to be prepared for such an event on our campus? How can I help my child to live in faith and not fear?
Our children will always take their emotional cues from us. They need us to be calm and to reassure them that they are safe and loved unconditionally, which was also the message they heard in chapel this morning. This tragedy will affect each of our children differently. Some may not be aware or affected. Some may become fearful. What is most important is for us to listen and pay attention to them. Find out what if any questions they have about what happened, ask how they feel when they think about it, and listen to what they say.
Remember also that we want to protect the spirit of childhood. We should limit their exposure to the 24-hour news coverage available on radio, television, phones, and other media.
We want to model for them how to express our feelings and fears. We also need to help them keep perspective on their own level of risk. We should acknowledge for our children that bad things do happen, while we also reassure them that many good people are working hard to keep them safe, including their parents, teachers, law enforcement, and others. Our intruder drill last fall with the children, our consultations with the Middletown and state police including an active shooter drill with the faculty two years ago, and our updated information systems are all part of our safety preparedness procedures. You can help by updating your contact information on file at the school if there are changes.
So give your children an extra hug and know that we at St. Anne's also hold them in our thoughts and prayers. You might also want to come here Allison Banbury speak on Monday, February 26 at 6:00 about helping our children and ourselves in dealing with anxiety. As we head into a long weekend today, I am hopeful that you and your family can enjoy some peace and quiet together.
God's Peace to you and yours,
Head of School
P.S. For more suggestions, with specific distinctions for varying ages, I am also resharing consider these resources:
Talking to Children About Tragedies (American Academy of Pediatrics)
Helping Kids After a Shooting (American School Counselor Association)
Explaining the News to Our Kids (Common Sense Media)
Helping Children Cope with Frightening News (Child Mind Institute)
Helping Children Cope with Terrorism – Tips for Families and Educators (National Association of School Psychologists)