Information for families: What do I say when my kids ask about Newtown?
Post date: Dec 17, 2012 12:05:58 AM
To Parents and Guardians:
I know you join the Manchester School District in extending our thoughts and prayers to the community of Newtown, CT.
I want to assure you that our schools are safe and we will take the necessary steps to ensure the safety and welfare of your children and our staff. All of our schools have a “buzz in” system with cameras monitoring the front entrances with the exception of Manchester High School - Central. Each school has emergency response plans and continues to have drills to ensure that administrators, staff and students know what steps to take during a natural or man-made emergency.
As your children return to school tomorrow, each principal has developed a plan to respond to the needs of your children. Each school will allow time for students to discuss the recent events in Newtown, CT. In addition, the school personnel will extend their visibility throughout the school. We will have counselors and staff available throughout the week to respond to our students and staff needs.
I will be meeting with building administrators throughout the week and will have an updated review of existing emergency response plans to determine if any adjustments need made to the plans.
Here are some helpful resources you might consider when you are talking to your children regarding the tragedy in Newtown, CT.
Friends School of Atlanta offers the following suggestions:
- Shelter younger children from graphic media reports
- If your child/student asks about it, try to stay calm, and choose a quiet place with few distractions
- Stay as calm as possible; children pick up on the feelings of others
- Maintain routines and structures; they are reassuring during times of stress
- Focus on your child/student's feelings and thoughts, without judgment or suggestions
- Reassure your child/student, and try to help find ways of coping, such as discussing how your child/student is protected, and what positive actions your student might be able to take.
- Talk about safety measures being taken (the National Crime Prevention Council publication shown below might be helpful for this discussion.)
- Talk about your family's/class safety rules and plans.
- Provide facts, in keeping with your child/student's age and maturity.
- Open a way for your child/student to communicate new thoughts and fears as they arise.
- Give plenty of hugs and attention, even if your child/student does not show outward signs of distress.
The links below offer additional additional information on supporting your children:
- The Lucy Daniels Center gives age-specific suggestions.
- Mental Health America also offers suggestions, along with a list of signs that indicate a child may need help.
- The New York Child Study Center has published a report, "Caring for Kids After Trauma, Disaster and Death: A Guide for Parents and Professionals"
- The National Crime Prevention Council offers "Stopping School Violence: A Dozen Things..."
- The National Association of School Psychologists offers "Talking to Children About Violence: Tips for Parents and Teachers"—this publication provides a helpful list of talking points.
As we all work through this difficult period, it is important to increase our level of vigilance and to share any observations or comments you hear that may be helpful to us in maintaining a safe and secure environment for our students and staff.
Superintendent of Schools
Manchester School District