Archive for December 17th, 2012

CT: A Note From Woodstock Elementary School

Woodstock Elementary School Principal Karen White was asked by Woodstock Early Bird to share any thoughts she has regarding dealing with the aftermath of the shooting deaths of children and staff at a school in Connecticut this past Friday.

White informed us that a school safety committee will be meeting once again this Monday but that staff were informed of the incident last Friday as well. Here is her response to our request(which we appreciate greatly!):

From Karen White, WES Principal:

It is so sad to see the loss of precious lives in Newtown and it breaks my heart. We take safety very seriously here at WES and this event serves as a reminder as to why this is so important.

We have a safety team and comprehensive safety plan that we review regularly as a faculty and have shared with our Emergency Service personnel in Town.

Below is information that may be helpful to parents and caregivers as they think about how to talk about this tragedy with children.

My main advice is to limit the exposure your child has to news reports and adult conversations.

Encourage children to talk about their concerns and to express their feelings.

Some children may be hesitant to initiate such conversation, so you may want to prompt them by asking if they feel safe at school.

When talking with younger children remember to talk on their level. For example, they may not understand the term “violence” but can talk to you about being afraid or a classmate who is mean to them.

Talk honestly about your own feelings regarding school violence. It is important for children to recognize they are not dealing with their fears alone.

Validate the child’s feelings. Do not minimize a child’s concerns. Let him/her know that serious school violence is not common, which is why these incidents attract so much media attention.

Stress that schools are safe places. In fact, recent studies have shown that schools are more secure now than ever before.

Empower children to take action regarding school safety. Encourage them to report specific incidents (such as bullying, threats or talk of suicide) and to develop problem solving and conflict resolution skills.

Encourage older children to actively participate in student-run anti-violence programs.

Discuss the safety procedures that are in place at your child’s school. Explain why visitors sign in at the principal’s office or certain doors remain locked during the school day. Help your child understand that such precautions are in place to ensure his or her safety and stress the importance of adhering to school rules and policies.

Create safety plans with your child. Help identify which adults (a friendly secretary, trusted teacher or approachable administrator) your child can talk to if they feel threatened at school. Also ensure that your child knows how to reach you (or another family member or friend) in case of crisis during the school day.

Remind your child that they can talk to you anytime they feel threatened.

Recognize behavior that may indicate your child is concerned about returning to school.Younger children may react to school violence by not wanting to attend school or participate in school-based activities.

Teens and adolescents may minimize their concerns outwardly, but may become argumentative, withdrawn, or allow their school performance to decline.

Keep the dialogue going and make school safety a common topic in family discussions rather than just a response to an immediate crisis.

Open dialogue will encourage children to share their concerns.

Seek help when necessary.