Archive for the ‘Dealing With Tragedy’ Category

The Overwhelming Job of Paris’ Teachers

November 16, 2015

Children and adults lay flowers and light candles at a shift memorial along a police cordon set-up close to the Bataclan concert hall on November 15, 2015 in Paris, following a series of coordinated attacks in and around Paris on November 13. Islamic State jihadists claimed a series of coordinated attacks by gunmen and suicide bombers in Paris that killed at least 129 people and wounded hundreds more in scenes of carnage at a concert hall, restaurants and the national stadium.  AFP PHOTO / MIGUEL MEDINA        (Photo credit should read MIGUEL MEDINA/AFP/Getty Images)

As much as we hope that parents will take a lead role in comforting fragile French kids in the aftermath of the Paris tragedy, you can bet much will be left to their school teachers.

Nothing prepares you for the kind of discussions these teachers will be asked to moderate and it’s an unenviable position they have in restoring calmness and clarity to fearful children:

 

On Jan. 7, 2015, there was suffocating alarm, horror and fear in the wake of the Charlie Hebdo shooting. The next day, wounds still fresh, it was necessary to keep going. It was a difficult day for schoolteachers in France, faced with students and their questions, and at times their anger.

On Monday, Nov. 16, there will be a similar challenge.

HuffPost France asked teachers and school principals about their expectations for the first school week after Friday’s Paris attacks and the messages they hoped to send to the students.

“This Monday, I’ll start my day with a 12th-grade literature class. It’s a class that I’m close to, especially since I already lived through the attacks of last January with them,” said Marie-Sandrine, a high school teacher. “I end my morning with a 10th-grade class that lasts till 12:20 p.m.”

On Sunday, the teacher noticed that discussions were already underway in online teachers’ forums, on social networks and over the phone. “The atmosphere is very different from the day after the attack on Charlie Hebdo,” she said. “In her address, the minister of education thanked us for our professionalism. She has given us resources to tackle the topic in class. From now on, it will be important to talk about a ‘minute of contemplation’ rather than a ‘minute of silence.'”

Marie-Sandrine said that she’s received emails and messages from students and former students, asking if she is safe and well. “They needed to be comforted,” she said.

“On Monday, I’m going to try to welcome their thoughts with an open mind. ‘Do you want to talk about it?’ That’s how I’ll start. I’m not afraid of their hostile reactions because unlike January, I know that nobody can say, ‘They were asking for it.’ I’m more afraid of the state of panic, of fear, or an absence of lightness. Some students who got in contact with me have told me, ‘Miss, I’m scared.'”

“Teenagers aren’t conscious of the fact that they could die. They don’t think about it like adults do. I’ll tell them that death is part of life,” she said. “I’d also like to teach them how to tell the difference between news and rumors. Finally, I’d like to encourage them to think about how we can take care of each other. If all of that is too heavy, we’ll stop, and I’ll have them listen to the song ‘My France’ by Jean Ferrat, and then we’ll go on with class.”

 

 

Click on the link to read Explaining the Paris Tragedy to Young Children

Click on the link to read Some Kids Are So Brave! (Video)

Click on the link to read Guess What This Map Represents

Click on the link to read Is There a Greater Tragedy than a School Tragedy?

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Explaining the Paris Tragedy to Young Children

November 15, 2015

france-terror

 

How on earth do you explain the tragedy that took place in Paris to young children?

Below are some tips by experts in the field I used for the Colorado shooting, but they are just as apt in this instance:

 

Watch for Trauma: “Young children may have difficulties identifying and expressing feelings. Parents should pay attention to the children’s play (for instance, preoccupation with certain aggressive electronic games, drawings, repetitive play that imitates the traumatic event or events). Another sign of trauma is avoidance of reminders.” — Dr. Aurelia Bizamcer, Medical Director, Outpatient Psychiatry at Temple University Hospital

Keep Answers Truthful but Simple: “We’re not holding back, but we’re not giving more because the giving more could have the risk of alarming the child. … As a parent you have an obligation to protect a young child from being overwhelmed.” –Alan Kazdin, Professor of Psychology and Child Psychiatry at Yale University; Director of the Yale Parenting Center.

Reassure Them: “We need to appreciate that kids have different fears. Many will worry about the movies, but others will worry about such events spilling over to other areas, such as the mall, school, the neighborhood. For kids of all ages, it is really important to let them know that these kinds of events are incredibly rare. ” –Dr. Gene Beresin, Director of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry Residency Training, Massachusetts General Hospital and McLean Hospital

Keep Answers Age-Appropriate: “Parents should be sure to pitch the discussion to their kids’ developmental level. For a 6-year-old, it’s completely appropriate to reassure them of their safety, with some emphasis on the fact that this person is no longer at large. For kids over the age of 8, more concrete details are appropriate, along with, perhaps, a general discussion of how to be safe in public — locating exit doors for instance, and getting to safety in the event of any dangerous occurrence.” –Jay Reeve,President and Chief Executive Officer, Apalachee Center

Don’t Make Assumptions: “Don’t project your own feelings, fears and anxiety on kids because you know you don’t really know exactly what your kids are feeling until you talk to them.” –Dr. Jane Taylor, psychiatrist

 

Click on the link to read Some Kids Are So Brave! (Video)

Click on the link to read Guess What This Map Represents

Click on the link to read Is There a Greater Tragedy than a School Tragedy?

Click on the link to read Advice for Talking With Your Kids About the Boston Marathon Attack

Some Kids Are So Brave! (Video)

September 30, 2014

 

Five-year-old Hannah Higgins has been through so much, yet has such strength of character. This short video will have a profoundly positive impact on terrified children about to go through the same ordeal.

 

Click on the link to read Guess What This Map Represents

Click on the link to read Is There a Greater Tragedy than a School Tragedy?

Click on the link to read Advice for Talking With Your Kids About the Boston Marathon Attack

Click on the link to read 6 Messages For Children After a Tragedy

Click on the link to read A Teacher’s Guide to Talking to Students About the Newtown School Shooting

Guess What This Map Represents

June 12, 2014

 

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This map which looks like a bad case of chicken pox unfortunately represents the 74 school shootings in the U.S since Newtown:

 

After the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, in December 2012, President Obama promised “meaningful action to prevent more tragedies like this.” His gun reform push, focused on a background check measure that had overwhelming public support, failed in the Senate last year, and Congress hasn’t passed any other gun legislation.

At least 74 school shootings happened during those 18 months, according to a tally by Everytown for Gun Safety, a group fighting to pass gun control laws. That’s more than one each week school was in session, with the longest gap between shootings spanning last summer’s break, from mid-June to mid-August.

The most recent shooting happened Tuesday morning at a high school east of Portland, Oregon. The gunman and a student are reported dead.

 

 

Click on the link to read Is There a Greater Tragedy than a School Tragedy?

Click on the link to read Advice for Talking With Your Kids About the Boston Marathon Attack

Click on the link to read 6 Messages For Children After a Tragedy

Click on the link to read A Teacher’s Guide to Talking to Students About the Newtown School Shooting

Click on the link to read Explaining the Sandy Hook Elementary School Shooting to Children

Click on the link to read Helping Kids Cope in the Aftermath of Sandy

11-Year-Old Writes Bucket List for her Terminally ill Mother

May 30, 2013

 

mel

As part of the standardised testing this year, students were asked to nominate a person for a hypothetical “Hero Prize” and give reasons for their selection. 50% of the students at my school nominated their mother (interestingly, none nominated their father). The impact a mother has on a child is unquantifiable and the heroism many mothers face at a time when finding the right work/home balance is as tricky as ever, should not go unnoticed.

The bucket list compiled by a an 11-year-old, charting the list of activities she would like to do with her mother while she is still well enough, strikes at the heart of how unimaginably hard it would be for a child to lose a parent, especially a mother.

bucket

To donate to the fund, visit Kate’s Bucket List on Facebook.

Click on the link to read Tips For Parents of Kids Who “Hate School”

Is There a Greater Tragedy than a School Tragedy?

May 21, 2013

tornado

My thoughts and wishes go out to all those effected by the recent Oklahoma tornado.

US President Barack Obama declared a “major disaster” as rescuers combed through smashed homes and the collapsed remains of an elementary school in Moore, where twister-seasoned residents were shocked by the devastation.

The dead included at least 20 children, most of them under the age of 12, Amy Elliott, of the state medical examiner’s office, told AFP.

Reporters for local broadcaster KFOR-TV saw children as young as nine being pulled out of the Plaza Towers Elementary School in Moore, a residential community of 55,000 just south of Oklahoma’s state capital.

Anxious parents were being kept at a distance while search-and-rescue workers scrambled to free the students.

A second elementary school, Briarwood, was also hit but did not appear to have suffered casualties.

tornado2

Click on the link to read Advice for Talking With Your Kids About the Boston Marathon Attack

Click on the link to read 6 Messages For Children After a Tragedy

Click on the link to read A Teacher’s Guide to Talking to Students About the Newtown School Shooting

Click on the link to read Explaining the Sandy Hook Elementary School Shooting to Children

Click on the link to read Helping Kids Cope in the Aftermath of Sandy

Click here to read ‘Helping Our Children Make Sense of Natural Disasters’.

6 Messages For Children After a Tragedy

April 21, 2013

Courtesy of educator and child advocate Pam Allyn:

1. Most of the time, people are trying to do the right thing.

“When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, ‘Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.'”

This message from Mr. Rogers is particularly helpful for a child who needs a strategy to counteract the horror of the image he sees on television or right before him. Day after day, friendly people give up seats on a train to someone who needs it more, share a gift with someone or run in the direction of danger to help, as many did in Boston. Tell these stories to a child. Put the spotlight on the helpers.

2. Anger is OK. Sometimes it is very useful.

For a child, anger is a complicated emotion. Children are sometimes told it’s not an appropriate feeling. But they feel it nevertheless, and wonder what to do about it. We can help children to not only manage those feelings, but convert them. Consider heroes like Martin Luther King, Mother Theresa and Mahatma Gandhi, who have become known over the years for their peaceful, non-violent solutions to world problems. In fact, each of them burned with anger and then turned this anger into real action. Read aloud to your child from great speeches by Martin Luther King, Jr. and by other heroes who spoke out against injustice. Let them see the real human effort involved in converting anger to action.

3. The world is safer than it sometimes seems.

When a tragedy happens, a child’s world is shaken. Nothing feels safe. It is important to help children re-frame their world so as to remind him or her of the daily ways we live so securely. We travel, eat, sleep, talk, make friends, go to work and school all many, many times and all around the world every single day and a million times a year. These are all blessings we can count on. Use this opportunity to give your child a notebook or make a file on the computer for your child to keep a diary of the day’s events, and to savor in the ordinary. Reminders of how ordinary every day generally is are very comforting to a child who wants to count on the steadiness of the world and believe in it again.

4. The world is genuinely beautiful.

The television images are gruesome after a tragedy. It is very challenging to keep those images from children, although we can try. There is an antidote and that is the beauty of the world itself. Collect such images with your child, in photos and in writing. Create photo book collections of trees, flowers and people’s faces. Remind your child these things exist, and some are of nature and some are made by man, but that we can practice each day to find beauty all around us. That takes practice too.

5. Learning how to read helps us make sense of the world.

The child who is overwhelmed by images can feel powerless. This is an opportunity to talk about the power of words. Reading gives us control, giving us ways to find what we need on our own and also makes us happy. Show children examples of this. Learn more about emergency workers and what they do in their jobs. Learn together about ways to solve problems. Find out new information about different parts of the world. Read picture books that comfort, soothe and distract.

6. Our simple and every day acts of kindness will make a difference.

Doing simple acts of kindness can counteract the awful feeling we all get after a tragedy that we don’t know how to help. Keep a notebook together called “Daily Acts of Kindness” and fill it each evening with things that have touched you both, or things you both have done for others. These actions are comforting both for the giver and the receiver.

 

Click on the link to read Advice for Talking With Your Kids About the Boston Marathon Attack

 

Click on the link to read A Teacher’s Guide to Talking to Students About the Newtown School Shooting

Click on the link to read Explaining the Sandy Hook Elementary School Shooting to Children

Click on the link to read Helping Kids Cope in the Aftermath of Sandy

Click here to read ‘Helping Our Children Make Sense of Natural Disasters’.

 

Advice for Talking With Your Kids About the Boston Marathon Attack

April 18, 2013

martin richard dead boston marathon

Some helpful tips from usatoday.com:

Tips:

  • Turn off the TV and keep newspapers from younger children.
  • Remind them that they’re safe and that you and other adults are taking care that they stay that way.
  • Give kids something positive to do. It could be writing notes or raising money for a children’s charity or the Red Cross. Often the victims of an event are overwhelmed with gifts, so finding a national or regional group that can spread the aid is helpful.
  • Talk about the overwhelmingly positive response of the people near the bombing — regular people who ripped up their own clothes to make bandages and took stranded runners into their homes so they could make phone calls. Discuss what you as a family would do in a situation like that and how you would help.

Click on the link to read A Teacher’s Guide to Talking to Students About the Newtown School Shooting

Click on the link to read Explaining the Sandy Hook Elementary School Shooting to Children

Click on the link to read Helping Kids Cope in the Aftermath of Sandy

Click here to read ‘Helping Our Children Make Sense of Natural Disasters’.

Not Another School Shooting! (Video)

January 11, 2013

C’mon already! In the wake of the recent school shooting in Connecticut all schools were on high alert. The fact that even in this increasingly aware state yet another school shooting could take place is reason enough to go beyond talks of armed guards, gun trained teachers and metal detectors. America needs strict gun laws!

US vice-president Joe Biden and the National Rifle Association (NRA) butted heads on gun control in Washington as one person was injured in another US school shooting.

Police say a 16-year-old student was shot and wounded by a fellow classmate who opened fire with a shotgun at a high school in rural California.

The shooting took place at Taft Union High School in the town of Taft north of Los Angeles, just weeks after the massacre of 26 people – including 20 children – at a school in Newtown, Connecticut.

The violence has revived America’s debate about gun control, and just before news of the shooting broke Mr Biden sat down for a private meeting with NRA representatives.

Mr Biden is heading a task force exploring ways to reduce gun violence and plans to submit recommendations to president Barack Obama by next Tuesday.

Hopes the meeting would lead to a breakthrough were dashed when the NRA released a statement saying it was disappointed that the meeting had little to do with keeping children safe and more to do with attacking gun rights.

“It is unfortunate that this administration continues to insist on pushing failed solutions to our nation’s most pressing problems. We will not allow law-abiding gun owners to be blamed for the acts of criminals and madmen,” the statement said.

The NRA says it will now reach out to members of Congress for what it calls an honest conversation about what will and will not reduce gun violence.

Click on the link to read Do You Really Want to Arm Me?

Click on the link to read Living With Adam Lanza

Click on the link to read School Shooting Showcases the Heroic Nature of Brilliant Teachers

Click on the link to read Let’s Make Sure that this School Shooting is the Last

Click on the link to read Get Rid of Your Guns!

Click on the link to read Explaining the Sandy Hook Elementary School Shooting to Children

Welcome Back, Sandy Hook Students!

January 3, 2013

bus

It’s great to hear that the students of Sandy Hook are back at school after the tragedy that transpired a few weeks ago:

Since escaping a gunman’s rampage at their elementary school, the 8-year-old Connors triplets have suffered nightmares, jumped at noises and clung to their parents a little more than usual.

Now parents like David Connors are bracing to send their children back to school, nearly three weeks after the shooting rampage at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown. It won’t be easy – for the parents or the children, who heard the gunshots that killed 20 of their classmates and six educators.

“I’m nervous about it,” Connors said. “It’s unchartered waters for us. I know it’s going to be difficult.”

Classes are starting Thursday at a repurposed school in the neighboring town of Monroe, where the students’ desks have been taken along with backpacks and other belongings that were left behind in the chaos following the shooting on Dec. 14. Families have been coming in to see the new school, and an open house is scheduled for Wednesday.

An army of workers has been getting the school ready, painting, moving furniture and even raising the floors in the bathrooms of the former middle school so the smaller elementary school students can reach the toilets.

Connors, a 40-year-old engineer, felt reassured after recently visiting the new setup at the former Chalk Hill school in Monroe. He said his children were excited to see their backpacks and coats, and that the family was greeted by a police officer at the door and grief counselors in the hallways.

Teachers will try to make it as normal a school day as possible for the children, schools Superintendent Janet Robinson said.

“We want to get back to teaching and learning,” she said. “We will obviously take time out from the academics for any conversations that need to take place, and there will be a lot of support there. All in all, we want the kids to reconnect with their friends and classroom teachers, and I think that’s going to be the healthiest thing.”

Teachers are returning as well, and some have already been working on their classrooms. At some point, all those will be honored, but officials are still working out how and when to do so, Robinson said.

“Everyone was part and parcel of getting as many kids out of there safely as they could,” she said. “Almost everybody did something to save kids. One art teacher locked her kids in the kiln room, and I got a message from her on my cellphone saying she wouldn’t come out until she saw a police badge.”

welcome

Click on the link to read Adam Lanza’s Brother: I am a Victim Too!

Click on the link to read Revealed: Adam Lanza’s Motive

Click on the link to read Do You Really Want to Arm Me?

Click on the link to read Living With Adam Lanza

Click on the link to read School Shooting Showcases the Heroic Nature of Brilliant Teachers

Click on the link to read Let’s Make Sure that this School Shooting is the Last

Click on the link to read Get Rid of Your Guns!

Click on the link to read Explaining the Sandy Hook Elementary School Shooting to Children


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