Helping Kids Return to School After Tragedy

Geoffrey Canada and Willow Bay discuss helping children feel safe again in the classroom.
6:54 | 12/17/12

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Transcript for Helping Kids Return to School After Tragedy
Children head back to school for the first time this morning since friday's shootings. Your child might be nervous. It's a daunting but crucial challenge for all of us, helping our kids feel safe in the classroom. There are multiple fatalities including children. Reporter: Across the country, children getting set to go back to school. It's important to acknowledge their s. Reporter: Teemps like lauren grapple with now make her classroom safe. Ly continue do what I can to assure their safety. They'll be reaching out to me for answers. As adults, dwoent have those answers. Reporter: One teacher's homework was simple. Go home and hug your loved ones. Another teacher wrote, I'll be locking my door this week. I'm worried about how I'm going the feel and let go of her hands as she gets on the bus. Reporter: This morning, school dropoffs are a difficult and necessary start to a new day. One of the ways of demonstrating that their lives are secure and reliable is to have them disrupted as little as possible. Reporter: Child trauma expert dr. Steven marin says it's important not to avoid discussing friday's events. Everybody has being feelings about what happened. The opportunity here is to provide a forum in which kids can put into words what they're thinking about. Reporter: Now, as the nation mourns with connecticut, it stands, too, with surviving schools and the people who fill them with hope. And we now are beginning our conversation what about to say to our kids across the country about what happened in newtown, connecticut. Joining us to talk about how teachers and parents wican held their children feel saver, jeffrey, and willow bay. I would like to start with you, jeffrey, thaend have wiand then have willow weigh in. It varies on the age of the child. For children 7 and under, we shouldn't be bringing this up? Our young people are not consuming huge amounts of tv and radio that young age. We need to make sure their world gets righted, their routines get re-established. Mostly take the temperature of young kids, see if you see science of sadness or anxiety. You could ask kids, anyone concerned need to talk about. I would not try to get very young kids to consume the story. If they don't ask, don't bring it up? Let them continue in the world that 5 and 6-year-olds need to live in where they're safe under the caring watchful eye of adults. That does not assume that some kids may have heard something and we have to figure out which kids we need to talk to. It's important for parents to be calm and to reassure them that they are safe and there are grown-ups trying to keep them safe? Absolutely. It's important for us as parents to manage the complicated and powerful emotions we have off camera, if you will. Talk with other adults, work with them on our own, share them with your children in a controlled way and in a very comfortable tone to acknowledge that, yes there are very powerful feelings. Then to reassure children, also in very specific and concrete ways that their school is safe. Give them actual examples, because little kids think very concretely. Here are the ways that adults are working to keep you safe. Your teemp, your principal. Mom and dad. Here are some of the drills that you practice at school to keep you safe. Again, those specifics give them comfort. What do you do with the older kids who know enough to say, but at sandy hook elementary, there were principals, grownups, a security system and it didn't work? You answer them very directly and simply and you respond and teemps know this very well. You respond to the cues of your child. You watch your child very carefully as you're giving them information for csignals that you're giving them enough and you encourage them to give you signs to give them more details. Simple, factual, direct. Layer on the details as you talk. Geoffrey, you point out that teemps need to be on the lookout for signs of anxiety in the classroom because often times, children don't raise their hands and say, I'm upset. But they'll act it out. Here, we have an important issue. Some young people are very their own trauma in their life that this added additional trauma is going to really tip them really over an emotional edge. We need to be able to provide support for those kids. Teem teachers need to be able to do triage. Some kids need an arm around them and say, it's all right. Til tell you this. All over america, teachers should be explaining to children why it's important to listen be calm, and do what they're told when an emergency happens. It will make kids feel better knowing there's a plan. And you said also, teachers may be feeling trauma. There were teachers slain in this as well. In my schools, all of my teachers worry about their students. But they realize for the first time, american teachers are on the front lines. Most of them are not prepared for this level of fear. Should a parent talk to their child about the event of a terrible person coming into their zone of safety? Think kids should have a plan and parents should rehearse plan for them. It will give everybody a measure of comfort. Knowing they can do something. Willow bay, geoffrey canada. Thank you so much.

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