Dear Children’s School Families,
We are devastated by the tragedy this past Friday in Newtown, Connecticut. Our thoughts are with all families whose lives have been forever altered by this senseless act.
I want you to know that the safety and well being of everyone in our building will not be compromised and as a school we have systems in place to ensure their security.
As a team, we met this morning to discuss the protocols that are already in place in our school community. The safety committee continuously reviews protocols and revisions necessary will be identified and implemented.
Prior to school opening, staff members met to discuss how to handle talking about a very delicate situation with children. Please feel assured that any student concerns will be addressed on an individual basis and anyone who needs additional support will be directed to our guidance department.
We are dedicated to making our community a place where children feel welcome and safe and with your support and cooperation we will be able to continue to do so.
Below is a guideline created by Anne Santa a Bank Street Psychologist that may prove helpful in case some questions arise.
Arthur P. Mattia
Dear Parents and Educators,
Our children are growing up in a world where they are more and more aware of times of disaster, natural and human made. With the media and rapid travel of news, only our very youngest children are now out of “earshot of news.” Today our country suffers the loss of children’s lives in Newtown, Connecticut. Many of your children may hear of this heartbreaking and senseless event over the next few days. As this shooting occurred in a school and to children, the impact of it on you and your children is deep. With this in mind, we want to provide some ideas of ways for parents and educators to support students and families.
For teachers of young children, listen closely to children’s conversations and watch their play. If you see a child talking about the shooting, talk to that child one-on-one, addressing his/her concerns in order to provide comfort and reassurance. Be sure to let the child’s parents know.
Older children may want and need to talk about it, with their friends or with their teachers. Our suggestions for helping those conversations are very similar to those we would offer for younger children, with an additional reminder that in homes where there are younger children, those talks should happen away from them. At school, some discussion may emerge. Teachers should monitor those and listen both to the information students share and for the feelings that may
accompany them. Both warrant a response along the guidelines suggested below.
At home, we hope you will consider these strategies:
Increase parent availability. Children are likely to be anxious and fearful
if they know about this shooting. They may identify with the school children at the school in Newtown and they will need both physical and emotional support.
Reduce access to media and “Breaking News.” Parents should be the ones to
answer questions they raise. Do not flood children with details. Children should not be exposed to the repeated images of children and families in the middle of a disaster.
It is better to respond to questions by saying I don’t know than to
oversimplify by saying the shooter was “mentally ill.” That can cause more
fearfulness of others down the way.
Ask your older children to be mindful of discussions that might be upsetting to their younger siblings. Be aware that your children listen to hushed voices and may overhear conversations between adults.
Acknowledge your own feelings and listen to what your child is feeling.
If your children ask about their own safety at school, remind them of the
ways their school keeps its community safe. For example, at Bank Street we have a security guard, ID cards, teachers, and parents who know each other well.
More information on school violence prevention and response is available
from the National Association of School Psychologists
Millions of children go to school safely every day and that will continue.
Parents and teachers are dedicated to that every day. Our hearts are sad. We are grateful we work in our communities where adults work together to love and talk to our children in ways that will soothe and reassure. Please take care of yourselves in the aftermath of this tragedy.
Dr. Anne Santa, LS & MS Psychologist
Bank Street School for Children