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In Wake of Newtown School Shooting, Madison Youth & Family Services, And Schools, On Helping Children and Families Cope with Trauma

Also, information from the United Way 2-1-1 on offering advice and support in wake of horror of Newtown school shooting

 

Editor's note: Here are a variety of resources, from Madison Youth & Family Services, from Madison Public Schools, from United Way 2-1-1, and other resources on how to talk with your child about tragedy. The Madison Public Schools have provided resources to all of their teachers, administrators and parents via email. Those resources are provided below.

"Each principal will be communicating with staff to advise everyone how to handle this tragedy next week," Madison Public School Superintendent Thomas Scarice said. "We will make any and all counselors available as needed for any students in need of services."

The town of Madison, with support from the church community, is planning a vigil Sunday, Dec. 16 at 6 p.m. at the First Congregational Church on the town green, 26 Meetinghouse Ln, Madison, CT.

The town has also asked residents and businesses to lower their flags to half-staff through at least Monday to show support for Newtown.

Huffington Post has an article on how you can help Newtown, CT.

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By David Melillo
Madison Youth & Family Services

Like all the people of Madison, our hearts go out to the people of Sandy Hook and Newtown.  We are deeply saddened by this tragedy which is beyond all explanation.  We wish them all the support and love they will need.

As parents, we share the difficult task of trying to figure out how we handle this with our own children.

It is not easy and there is no “one size fits all” answer.  What you say will depend upon your child’s age, maturity, and anxiety level,  and your proximity to the tragedy.

With younger children we  worry more about inundating a child with information.  Answer their questions honestly and simply.  Protect them from the media, and pay attention to your own conversations in their presence.  “Less is more” as long as your young child’s questions are answered.

However, some children may not ask questions and it is important to avoid assumptions about what a child might think OR feel.  Younger children may act out their feelings in behavior or play and you can take your lead from what you observe.

Make  clear the ways in which your children are safe, the community resources  available to help them (police, fire), and how rarely this type of violence actually occurs.

Older children are more capable of processing their feelings on these issues.  A direct conversation with high school aged children is certainly appropriate.   However, it is important to understand your particular child.  A sixteen year old with intense anxiety may not want to hear a lot about the tragedy.  Realize that some people feel things more intensely than others.

Middle school-aged children are most likely to differ widely in their reactions to tragedy.  Some middle school students are still young children, while others are much more young adults.  The one thing that separates them from younger children is their exposure to media.  Smart phones, I-pod Touch, computers, broader exposure to T.V. -all make it harder to protect middle school students from being  bombarded  by media.  All this makes conversations more important.  

Most children of all grades would consider their school as a very safe place.  This event may raise questions and fears about their safety in school.  If a child voices a concern or fear for their safety, it is important to empathize and share with them how you as a parent protect them, and how their school works very hard to protect them as well.  Parents can work with school officials to reiterate and reinforce the ways schools protect children.

Good luck and feel free to call Madison Youth and Family Services; (203 245-5645) if you need help.  We’ve included a handout from the National Association of School Psychologist, which is posted with this article.

Here is information sent out to Madison Public School's Staff:

In order to support adult efforts in communicating with children about the horrific tragedy in Newtown please refer to the following resources:

Talking to Children About Violence: Tips for Parents and Teachers. National Association of School Psychologists (posted with this article, also recommended by Madison Youth & Family Services).

Helping Young Children Cope With Trauma. American Red Cross (posted with this article).

Helping Kids During Crisis
. American School Counselor Association

Talking to Children about Community Violence. American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry

Talking with Kids About News
. PBS Parents

The above resources are also posted on the district website.

 

Editor's note: Below is some information from the experts at 211 and The United Way with additional tips on how to talk to our kids in the wake of the tragedy in Newtown:

Our hearts are with the families of those affected by today's shooting in Newtown.

United Way 2-1-1, Connecticut's statewide information and referral and crisis line, wants you to know that we are available 24 hours a day to connect families with the resources they need in the wake of this tragedy. If you or your child need assistance, dial 2-1-1, to reach call specialists trained in handling crisis situations.

Resources Available

EMPS - 2-1-1 is the access point for Emergency Mobile Psychiatric Services, a mobile crisis line for children and youth. Dial 2-1-1 and press 1 to reach a crisis call specialist who can connect you directly to a mental health clinician in your area.

www.211ct.org - visit our website to find local trauma resources. Enter your zip code or town and search (under Search by Service Keyword) for one of the following terms: Child Guidance, Therapy Referrals, Bereavement Counseling, General Bereavement Support Groups or Crime Victim/Witness Counseling.

Click on the links below for other resources to help children cope with traumatic events.

ted Aub December 15, 2012 at 01:23 PM
HEAVENLY FATHER , I HAVE SEARCHED MY MIND OVER AND OVER AS TO WHY 20 BEAUTIFUL CHILDREN CREATED IN YOUR IMAGE WERE TAKEN AWAY FROM THEIR FAMILIES AND COMMUNITY. I HAVE NOT COME UP WITH A LOGICAL ANSWER SO I ASSUME THAT WE (SOCIETY) HAVE DONE SOMETHING WRONG . i KNOW ITS OUR JOB TO NURTURE AND PROTECT OUR YOUNG , BUT WHY THIS ? I AM READY TO TAKE MY PUNISHMENT FOR MY PART IN NOT BEING ABLE TO PROTECT THOSE BEAUTIFUL CHILDREN AND PROMISE TO NEVER ALLOW SOMETHING OF THIS NATURE TO EVER HAPPEN AGAIN . NOTHING DOWN HERE MAKES ANY SENSE SO I AM APPEALING TO YOU ,A HIGHER POWER. PLEASE GUIDE US IN THE NURTURING AND PROTECTING OF OUR PEOPLE . PLEASE OPEN YOUR HEART AND YOUR KINGDOM TO THOSE WHO YOU ARE ABOUT TO RECEIVE . PROVIDE COMFORT TO THOSE WITH LOSS HERE ON EARTH AND PROVIDE OPPORTUNITY TO SOCIETY TO AMEND THIS GREAT LOSS . THANK YOU FATHER
Pem McNerney (Editor) December 15, 2012 at 02:21 PM
I hear you Ted. Thank you. There is no making sense of this. Not today. Maybe not ever. In the meantime, perhaps we can find some refuge in prayer or however people choose to express their faith in God or the universe, when logic and reason fail us. "He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds ... His understanding is infinite ... " ... even when ours is not. For those of us who are in a position to help, I've posted a link above, at the top of the story, for how you can do that.
BL Davis December 15, 2012 at 05:15 PM
And where is the link to Congress to ask our Senators and Representatives to renew the ban on assault weapons, to ban sale of multiple shot mazines for weapons and to require that background checks be made on ALL sales of guns and not just on 60% of purchases. Shouldn't we be focussing on PREVENTION of these kinds of attacks by increasing our mental health care and by reducing access to weapons more lethal than necessary for deer humters and protection of one's home.? Nurturing our children AFTER THE FACT is not a big enough response. Prevention is key.
Pem McNerney (Editor) December 15, 2012 at 05:40 PM
I think that is an important discussion to have as well. As you probably know, if you are familiar with this issue, there are some who feel that gun control is part of the answer, and others who feel that putting more guns in the hands of citizens is part of the answer. I belong in the former group, but welcome a balanced and respectful discussion of the issue. Increasing access to mental health care, and support services for those who suffer from mental illness, along with support services for their families, is becoming part of the discussion as well. Additionally, some local citizens here in Madison are inquiring about school safety and whether our schools should do a double check to make sure we are doing everything we can do there. Having said all that, there is still a lot we don't know about Friday's events and we've already seen "facts" reported about the event having to be revised as we learn new information. I welcome any new information, as well as anyone participating in the discussion ... in a respectful and balanced manner. Thanks.
Pem McNerney (Editor) December 15, 2012 at 05:41 PM
And thanks for your comments BL D.
Pem McNerney (Editor) December 15, 2012 at 05:59 PM
BL D, this just posted from a contributor, you might find it of interest: http://madison-ct.patch.com/blog_posts/should-we-adopt-britains-gun-control-laws
Ann December 17, 2012 at 01:37 PM
This petition has over 280000 signatures, requesting the house of representatives to enact tougher gun control laws. http://signon.org/sign/gun-control-now-1.fb23?source=s.icn.fb&r_by=6527032
Fred December 17, 2012 at 03:34 PM
Gee, Pem, you don't appear to have much trouble with government overreach, including measures that many believe amount to tyranny. For example, during tropical storm Sandy, you had no problem with government officials forcibly evacuating people from their homes. You now say that you do not object to government interference with citizens’ Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms. Out of curiosity, what are your feelings about the First Amendment? If Patch repeatedly posts inaccurate items, should the government be permitted to shut it down?
Mike Atkins December 17, 2012 at 03:36 PM
@Fred, you are what is wrong with America. Wise up and think of others for a change instead of your toys.
Fred December 17, 2012 at 03:46 PM
I'm thinking about our Constitution.
Mike Atkins December 17, 2012 at 04:03 PM
@ Fred, Constitution was written over 200 years ago. Do you also take the Bible literally as well?
Fred December 17, 2012 at 04:27 PM
I believe in our Constitution, and, yes, I take it "literally."
Mike Atkins December 17, 2012 at 04:35 PM
So there in lies your issues. Maybe you should cathc up,, it is 2012, not 1787.
Fred December 17, 2012 at 04:45 PM
Our Constitution remains law of the land. It protects Pem in writing her story, and protects you and me in posting comments on that story. It also protects my right to keep and bear arms, a right that I elect to exercise.

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