Resources for Educators and Families to Discuss Mass Shootings

four students sitting outside having lunch

Supporting students after a mass shooting

There was a horrific series of mass shootings across our country this weekend that our young people can talk about, wonder about and worry about.

The tragic grocery store shooting in Buffalo, New York is sadly the latest in a series of gruesome murders. In this case, the shooter targeted the black community after publishing a racist and anti-Semitic manifesto.

We may be physically distant from filming, but that doesn’t mean the topic isn’t a priority for educators, students, and families.

Our students want and need to talk about what they see, remember and feel now; they need the guidance and safety of adults in their schools so they can manage their own emotions and trauma in healthy, safe and productive ways.

Social and emotional learning resources for families, educators to support students

Resources related to recent events

General resources after the mass shootings

  • The National Association of School Psychologists (NASP) guidance for parents and educators for talking to children about violence suggests adults:
    • Reassure children that they are safe and review safety procedures.
    • Create a sense of security by returning to normal, predictable routines as soon as possible.
    • Take the time to talk and listen to children’s concerns and feelings.
    • Limit the use of media consumption of these events to reduce their stress and maintain balance and perspective.
    • Recognize that sleep difficulties are common and can lead to fatigue and low participation.
  • The American Psychological Association (APA) recommends honesty with children – acknowledging that bad things happen, but reassuring them with the information that many people are working to keep them safe, including their parents, teachers and law enforcement. The APA also advises limiting children’s exposure to media coverage following such traumatic events.
primary school students around a table

Wellness and mental health resources for students, adults

SDCOE provides training and support related to school safety, school climate and culture, and student mental health and well-being. Learn more about student support topics and find the training schedule.

The National Child Traumatic Stress Network provides resources that can be filtered by topic or keyword and audience with a focus on how adults can identify trauma reactions in young people and how to support them.

Educational Resources for Educators

Students want and need to talk about what they see, remember and feel now. they need the guidance and safety of adults in their schools so they can manage their own emotions and trauma in healthy, safe and productive ways. Classrooms are powerful places to help children navigate current events, provided educators put renewed energy into creating safe spaces for students.

As with all difficult topics, educators need to be acutely aware of the emotional impact these events have on students. Teachers should pay particular attention to students who may be particularly worried about this happening to them or their families. Before beginning a discussion, teachers are encouraged to consult resources for leading class discussions such as Facing History and Ourselves’ Fostering Civil Discourse (PDF).

Links to learn

The resources contained below are only intended to provide access to information. Educators know their students and the school community best and need to determine if the resource is the best fit for the need.

  • Facing History and Ourselves created Teaching in the Wake of Violence, a guide for teachers to navigate conversations with their students after news of a mass shooting, terrorist attack or other violent event.

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