Dear Saucon Valley School District and Community,
I would like to ask you all to keep the victims, their families, loved ones, and their community in your thoughts and prayers as we all struggle with the unthinkable events in Connecticut yesterday. An act such as this defies explanation and reason.
The Saucon Valley School District takes the safety and security of your children, the faculty, staff, and visitors seriously and keeps prevention as a priority. The district has measures in place to safeguard those in our care during the school day but regardless of what measures are in place some actions cannot be prevented as evidenced by today’s events.
It is important to reassure children that the adults in their lives are doing everything they can to make their school, home, and neighborhood safe. The National Mental Health Association has a number of suggestions for how to talk to children about something so tragic and horrific:
- 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 attention.
- Stress that schools are safe places. In fact, recent studies have shown that schools are more secure and safer now than ever before.
- Encourage your child to report specific incidents (such as bullying, threats or talk of suicide) and that they can talk to you or another adult at any time to help them feel safe.
- Help your child to self-advocate and to develop problem solving and conflict resolution skills. Encourage children to actively participate in prevention and to not be bystanders.
- Discuss the safety procedures that are in place at school. Explain why visitors sign in at the office and why 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.
- Make sure that your child knows how to reach you (or another family member or friend) in case of crisis during the school day.
Everyone will react differently to this horrific situation. 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.
Counselors will be on hand in our schools next week and we encourage any students, staff or parents who would like to talk to someone to please reach out to our schools for help.
Dr. Sandra Fellin