How to talk to your students about trauma and school violence

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It is an unacceptable reality that educators, parents, and caregivers must talk to children about gun violence in schools, repeatedly, in the wake of school shootings.

At the same time as stakeholders once again demand that lawmakers take action and protect the nation’s children while they are in classrooms–classrooms that are supposed to be safe–educators and caregivers are left with the heavy burden of addressing students’ anxieties and responses to trauma.

Conversations around school violence may feel uncomfortable, but many experts say open and clear communication can help students process what happened and feel safe in their classrooms, homes, and communities.

1. DotCom Therapy advises that educators keep discussions age-appropriate, acknowledge and validate students’ feelings, reaffirm their safety, keep to a normal schedule, monitor news and adult conversations, and take care of themselves as well.

2. The National Association of School Psychologists has resources to help educators respond to school violence and and reinforce school safety. These steps include clear communication, crisis training and professional development, and highlighting school violence prevention measures. Resources also include conversation starters and key points to include when talking to students about school violence.

Laura Ascione
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