Kamloops This Week
In the wake of the horrific school shootings at a school in Newtown, Conn., on Friday, Dec. 14 — killing 20 children and six adults — the Kamloops-Thompson school district has released a trauma handout intended to help parents as they discuss the incident with their children.
In addition, all parents of children in the school district were to receive an automated call from superintendent Terry Sullivan.
Here is the trauma handout for parents:
Protecting Children from Disturbing Media Reports During Traumatic Events
What Can Teachers, Parents and Caregivers Do?
Limit exposure to media sources, Television, Radio, Social Media, Computer, Internet
It is normal to seek information during and after disasters, accidents and other traumatic events. Children’s ability to understand disturbing news reports and images about such events is different from that of adults; their comprehension depends on their age and maturity. The repeated viewing of violent and horrific TV, Internet and newspaper images of traumatic events can upset them, and negatively affect the way they feel, behave, and perform in school.
The following tips can help you to protect your children.
Know How Children Understand Disturbing News Images:
Ages Six and Younger:
Believe that what they see on television is happening live while they are watching it.
Think that a traumatic event is happening over and over again when they see repeated images of it.
Find images of people suffering, crying, or being attacked very upsetting
Ages Seven to 12:
Understand that the news is only made up of reports about events that have already happened.
Find disturbing media images upsetting.
May become anxious for their own and their family’s safety
Ages 13 and Older:
They can be scared and horrified by the same things as younger children.
They can become deeply worried and anxious for their own and their family’s safety and future.
They may want to know why the bad things they see on the news are happening.
Limit the amount of news they watch, as exposure to too much news about a disaster or other traumatic events on TV, in the papers, or on the Web can make children worried and confused.
Limit their exposure to TV, internet and newspapers coverage of traumatic events, especially before bedtime.
Do not let your children watch TV coverage of disasters or other traumatic events alone.
Do not leave newspapers with disturbing images in sight.
Encourage your children to participate in other activities.
Limit your own exposure to disturbing stories and images. This may also help you to cope better with these events.
Reassure children that they are safe and that trustworthy people are in control:
As in all things, parents and caregivers are important role models. Your reactions and responses to traumatic events will affect how your children deal with those same events. It is okay to let children know that you are sad or hurt by an event, but it is important that they see you in control and feel your sense of security and resolve to protect them.
Spend extra time with the children and help them return to their normal routines as quickly as possible:
To help increase a sense of security, try to maintain family schedules for daily activities such as eating, playing, and sleeping. If a child needs more physical contact with you for a period of time, be available. Physical affection is very comforting to children who have experienced trauma. If possible, avoid unnecessary separations from your children immediately following a traumatic event. Build extra family time into your daily schedule and delay extended time away, such as travel, if at all possible.
Talk to the children, answer their questions:
They may ask— or may be wondering—”Is that going to happen to me?” Or “Is that going to happen to Mom or Dad?” These children should be reassured with information about the steps that the adults in their lives are taking to keep them safe. Children may also have questions about death and dying. You should answer their questions as truthfully as possible at a level they can understand.
What about communication between home and school?:
Increased communication between home and school is particularly important after a traumatic event. Teachers need to know what has happened in a child’s life, and parents should be informed of sudden changes in a child’s behavior or performance at school. Students with special needs may have increased difficulties in the aftermath of trauma. Other children may not want to go to school or may express fears about school that they never had before.
Monitor your children’s reactions:
Be aware of signs suggesting that the news images may have disturbed your children.
Children may complain of headaches, stomach aches and chest pain without actually being sick. In addition, their appetite may change. They may have sleeping problems or nightmares.
The event can make them afraid, anxious, or sad, and their behaviour may change. They can become clingy (especially the younger ones), aggressive, and have problems with their school work and peers. Your children may express a variety of these age‐specific feelings and behaviours.
— Information adapted from New York City Health