Once again the headlines scream in pain as the unimaginable becomes our reality. Playing out all over the news today is the gut wrenching slaughter of many children and their teachers at an elementary school, of all places, in Newtown, Connecticut.
I offer prayers for the families and the community devastated by this violence against the innocent. This year has seen several tragic shootings which are terrifying for all of us. When this happens in an elementary school, a place of safety, of learning, of play, our suffering is amplified. It would be best of course if children never have to hear about events like these, however that is not the world we seem to live in!
If your children hear about this tragedy, it is natural for them to imagine “what if?” and “will it?” happen in my school? Am I safe??? Can this happen to me and my friends? Parents and teachers and caregivers should not shy away from directly discussing this with children who are concerned or anxious or fearful. Let them know their fear is normal, that it’s OK to be sad on behalf of those who died, and even frightened that it may happen to them. Then we must explain how they themselves are safe. That the gunman who caused this incident is no longer a threat to anyone. Tell them that their teachers and principals work every day to make sure their schools are safe, then as quickly as possible, get back to your normal routine! Be aware that for some kids they may never think about this again, while others may have nightmares or manifest their anxiety in other ways. Both are normal reactions.
Our children rely on us to help them define the world they live in, and at the same time they have razor sharp radar for when the truth is being hidden from them. Being honest with them, respecting when they want to talk and when they don’t, accepting their reactions as “appropriate” no matter what they are, and then returning to your family’s routine is the best we can do during these media fueled, tragedies.
Reading Rainbow’s mission is to inspire a love of reading in children and connect them to the world they live in through quality literature so they believe that they, “can go anywhere, be anything.”
Tagged: LeVar Burton