Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Talking to your kids about tragedy

Children being taught what to do in case a gunman comes into their school - It just doesn't seem right that we should even have to think of such horrors, much less have them actually happen.

Instead of my usual cheery post I want to just take a little time to recognize those sweet children who were lost in Newtown, Connecticut last week. I look at my own kindergartner and I can't imagine the type of monster it would take to hurt such innocent young children, babies even still.

The shooting was the only thing on my mind last week, so I was surprised when picking up my kids from school that day they had heard nothing about it. The schools here are taking the stance that it should be kept quiet and not openly announced in school, although counselors are standing by for those who need it.  My boys had heard nothing of the school shooting although keep it quiet for too much longer would be impossible.
I discussed it with my older boys who would understand. My 13 year old couldn't even fathom such a think and didn't even know what to say or think about it. Kids shouldn't have to deal with this kind of tragedy. Then with my 10 year old, his first reaction was what he would do in that type of situation. That's the kind of person he is. He says if he was there he would have ran right up to the gunman, karate chopped him, and taken his gun. Or else he would have jumped in front of the other kids so that they wouldn't have gotten hurt.  I told him there is great honor in being a hero, but that sometimes the best way we can help is to stay out of the way and hide.
It felt so wrong as a parent to even have to tell my children about such horrific events. However, I would want my children to know what to do in case it ever happened in their school.

Our school district recently sent out a letter to all parents regarding this horrible tragedy. Here are the safety precautions our schools take:

1. Monthly safety drills consisting of shelter in place, lock downs, and evacuations.
2. Common safety flip charts posted in all classrooms and offices.
3. Use of red and green colored paper indicators in windows or outside doors to indicate all is well (green) or assistance is needed (red).
4. Unannounced safety drills where students and employees are purposefully hidden and staff must work to identify who is missing.
5. Use of the Threat Assessment Process when a threat is identified in an attempt to substantiate, or dismiss a threat.
6. Employee photo identifications have been provided and all employees are asked to wear these during work to assist parents in recognizing staff and identification of employees and non-employees during an emergency or drill.
7. Safety vests have been purchased last month and will be distributed to all employees once they are received. These will be for employees to wear during a drill/emergency to assist parents, emergency, and medical personnel in identification or employees and non-employees.
8. A new administrator supervisor safety flip chart is in draft and has been distributed to all supervisory level employees. The chart provides greater details for responsibility and activities during an evacuation and reunification with parents.

Further, here are links to help with more questions:

1.  A National Tragedy: Helping Children Cope, from the National Association of School Psychologists
  2.  Talking to Children About Violence, National Association of School Psychologists    
  3.  Listen, Protect and Connect: Psychological First Aid for Teachers and Schools

In closing I want to just say that we believe, my family and I, that those sweet innocent children went straight up to heaven to wait for their parents to join them someday. They are safe and protected now. My prayers go for the families left behind and the tragedy they are living with.

Here is a sweet poem I found online to end with:

“T’was eleven days before Christmas
Around 9:38,
When twenty beautiful children
Stormed Heaven’s gate
Their smiles were contagious
Their laughter filled the air,
They could hardly believe
All the beauty they saw there!
They were filled with such joy
They didn’t know what to say,
They remembered nothing
Of what had happened earlier that day,
“Where are we?” Asked a little girl,
As quiet as a mouse,
“This is Heaven!” declared a small boy,
“We’re spending Christmas at God’s House!”–Cameo Smith, Mt. Wolf, PA

No comments: