Our hearts are broken over the senseless tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School last Friday. On behalf of the entire Y.A.L.E. School community our prayers go out to everyone in Newtown, Connecticut.
I want to assure all parents that we will continue to take proactive steps to ensure the safety and security of our schools and the well-being of your children. Our clinicians will be available in all of our schools this week, and we encourage any student or parent who would like to talk to someone to please reach out to our staff.
The following suggestions come from the National Mental Health Association (as a parent you will need to determine which guidelines are appropriate for your child and his or her age/development level):
- 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 attentions. 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. 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 Teens and adolescents may minimize their concerns outwardly, but may become argumentative, withdrawn, or allow their school performance to decline.
- Seek help when necessary. If you are worried about a child’s reaction or have ongoing concerns about his/her behavior or emotions, contact a mental health professional at school or at your community mental health center.
© Mental Health America 2012 http://www.nmha.org/
If you have any questions or concerns please feel free to contact me or any of your campus principals.
Edward C. Vonderschmidt
Executive Director, The Y.A.L.E. School