Our hearts are broken by news of the mass shooting at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas. This senseless violence can be impossible to comprehend, and it can feel impossible to put feelings into words.
Children and teens may have an especially hard time processing the tragedy, and we want to share some useful resources to enable vulnerable conversation and safe ways of providing support.
For teachers and educators: The Center for Resilience and Well-Being in Schools has put together a straightforward guide for having empathetic conversations with students in the aftermath of violence. Their recommendations focus on validation, reflection, and asking helpful questions. The main takeaway: be patient, and meet students where they are at emotionally.
The National Child Traumatic Stress Network also provides an excellent information sheet to help parents, caretakers, and others understand how children experience shock and/or grief. It details how children of different ages may respond to traumatic events, whether they experienced the trauma themselves or have been affected by traumatic news viewed online or on TV.
For adults: although adults can focus on modeling healthy behaviors and supporting children through moments of tragedy, it’s also important for grown-ups to check in with themselves. This fact sheet, also from the National Child Traumatic Stress Network, helps adults understand their own emotional and physical responses to violence, and provides suggestions for self-care.
Talking specifically about gun violence: this tip sheet overviews how to talk to children about mass shootings. The suggestions focus on gently addressing misconceptions, validating concerns, and navigating media exposure.
We hope these resources help your families have compassionate, healing conversations during this tragic time. Our hearts go out to all of you.