Batavia Public Schools and other school districts are offering resources parents can use to discuss Friday's tragic events in Newtown, CT.
At least one gunman attacked a suburban Connecticut elementary school Friday, killing an estimated 27 people, including 20 children and himself, law enforcement sources said.
Authorities on Sunday afternoon confirmed the gunman to be 20-year-old Adam Lanza of Newtown. Police also released the name of another victim, Lanza’s mother Nancy, who was discovered at the home where the two lived. Police and other law enforcement officials continue an extensive investigation in Newtown.
"Providing a safe learning environment for our students and safe working environment for our staff is something we take seriously and is our first priority," said a Batavia districtwide message released on Friday.
Geneva administrators also sent messages to parents.
"We have learned of the terrible tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut," said George Petmezas, principal of Mill Creek Elementary School, via 304 Connects. "Our hearts go out to the families of this community as they try and make sense of such a tragic situation. As principal here at Mill Creek Elementary School and a parent of a pre-schooler, I can’t even begin to imagine what this community is going through at this time. Our district and elementary staff have spent many hours these past couple years preparing for these types of emergencies. Events such as these certainly put the training and policies we have in place into perspective."
The Batavia and Geneva school districts shared the following advice from the National Child Traumatic Stress Network:
- Limit media exposure. Limit your child’s exposure to media images and sounds of the shooting, and do not allow your very young children to see or hear any TV/radio shooting-related messages. Even if they appear to be engrossed in play, children often are aware of what you are watching on TV or listening to on the radio. What may not be upsetting to an adult may be very upsetting and confusing for a child. Limit your own exposure as well. Adults may become more distressed with nonstop exposure to media coverage of this shooting.
- What does your child already know? Start by asking what your child/teen already has heard about the event from the media and from friends. Listen carefully; try to figure out what he or she knows or believes. As your child explains, listen for misinformation, misconceptions and underlying fears or concerns. Understand that this information will change as more facts about the event are known.
- Gently correct inaccurate information. If your child/teen has inaccurate information or misconceptions, take time to provide the correct information in simple, clear, age-appropriate language.
- Encourage your child to ask questions, and answer those questions directly. Your child/teen may have some difficult questions about the incident. For example, he/she may ask if it is possible that it could happen at their school; he/she is probably really asking whether it is “likely.” The concern about re-occurrence will be an issue for caregivers and children/teens alike. While it is important to discuss the likelihood of this risk, the children are also asking if they are safe.
- Be patient. In times of stress, children/teens may have trouble with their behavior, concentration and attention. While they may not openly ask for your guidance or support, they will want it. Adolescents who are seeking increased independence may have difficulty expressing their needs. Both children and teens will need a little extra patience, care and love. (Be patient with yourself, too!)
If you or your child need additional support coping with the shooting, please do not hesitate to contact your school principal.