Since Friday's mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, CT, parents around the country have had to face the difficult task of telling their children about the evil act, answer their questions and comfort them.
The Hudson School District has posted some tips for "Supporting Children and Youth Following a Crisis Event" on its homepage. The page includes tips about "Talking to Children About Violence: Tips for Parents & Teachers," "Tips for Supporting Children & Youth After a Crisis Event" and "Managing Strong Emotional Reactions to Traumatic Events."
In addition, the district issued the following statement:
The staff of the Hudson School District is heartbroken for the Newtown, Connecticut community. The horrific and senseless tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary is weighing heavily on our minds and hearts. It tears at the core foundational value we hold dear of protecting our children and keeping them safe. We mourn for our neighbors in Connecticut who we don’t personally know.
The heroic efforts of the Sandy Hook Elementary staff to protect their students come from the same commitment and preparedness of Hudson Schools’ staff. School preparedness plans and safety drills, with and without students, occur in each of the Hudson schools. All of our schools have secure entrances and safety measures in place. The local police and county sheriff know our schools and collaborate with us to provide a safe environment. As an added measure, the district will be reviewing current school safety plans with local law enforcement. The district is committed to making sure each school is as safe as can be.
Even with these measures in place, it takes our entire community working together to protect our children from harm. Being watchful and reporting circumstances out of the ordinary to law enforcement or school authorities has in the past and will in the future add to their protection. We ask our community to bolster our efforts with their added vigilance.
Student and staff safety is our highest priority. We deeply appreciate everyone in our community working together to keep our schools and community safe.
Hudson Patch posted the question "What do you say when you tell your children about what happened in Connecticut?" and the following are the responses we received.
Trev Winberg: the truth
Dede Smith: My 1st grader asked what happened after seeing two armed officers outside his school yesterday afternoon. I told him a man shot and killed a lot of people in a school far away, but that he wasn't alive anymore and couldn't hurt anymore people. Of course, he asked me why. I told him this man's brain was sick. I also told him this is a rare thing and that he should feel safe in his school. And then I made sure to answer any other questions he had. I would much rather he hear what happened from me than from the media or other people at school.
Casandra de la Cruz: That there was a shooting in a school and ppl were killed, and that we should never joke about bringing guns to school (I have 2 young boys who love nerf guns). Then opened the conversation up to their questions and answered them to the best of my ability, sometimes not having an answer...
Mark Felton: The truth. A troubled individual chose to murder 27 people but while we, as a society, can tolerate abortion, how can we expect that life will be valued, above individual whim, personal problem, or childish rage. Teach children that they are apes; they will act like apes.
Emily Hoss: The truthful answers to their questions. However I do not feel that it's the schools job to inform or tell storie. If it's heard by ear or they watch tv fine, there's no reason for the teachers to bring it up. I think this falls into the same category as a classmates relative dying and a young student getting another sibling. It's okay to talk, but the teacher shouldn't spend the day explaining about death and autopsy, nor should they go step-by-step through the birthing process. When the 35W bridge collapsed my sister, 6 at the time, listened to her teacher tell her that it "happens a lot" and "bridges aren't all that safe". She's still terrified to cross them in cars.
Jo Otremba: I told them what happened- and then I told them that they needn't fear- that they can pray for God to grant comfort to the families, friends, and state workers that will have to deal with this horrible grief. And of course pray for those 20 angels who are now in the arms of our Father.
Jen Crim: With my middle school son we talked about how evil really does exist, but that someday God will make all things right. The love of Jesus is stronger than the darkness, and those who know him can share that with others through kindness. As to why this happened to these precious ones, we can't know. But we do know that God is good, loving, and in control, even when it doesn't look like it.
On the practical side, we discussed the importance of taking security drills and instructions seriously, and telling a trusted adult at school if he hears any rumors of impending violence. And to be kind to everyone and stick up for those who are bullied and mistreated.
Three other kids at different ages and comprehension levels... We will be adjusting the content accordingly for each of them.
Sarah Rae Moore: Am I the only one who is affraid to bring my child to school agian?