Responding to a Traumatic Event in School
Statement of the Traumatic Event
The traumatic event is similar in many aspects to Sandy Hook School shooting since it transpires in an elementary school. The generic incident involves a bomb threat where a suicide bomber enters a Grade 3 classroom, threatening to detonate the bomb, killing all 20 students and their grade teacher. The threat causes significant trauma, especially among children who might have a challenge coping with the danger.
Response during the Trauma
The teacher’s reaction to the incident plays a critical role in the reaction of students to the traumatic event. Dixon (2014) suggests the importance of remaining calm during a traumatic event, although it is impossible to predict the outcome. If the teacher responds calmly, he or she will communicate a similar message to students. For example, the teacher should avoid screaming to create the same environment amid the danger. In most cases, attackers become aggravated by noise and screams.
Responding to Children a day after the Event
The students will still be shaken and traumatized a day after the event. Thus, the teacher should reassure them of their safety both in school and classroom. Herman (2015) proposes the need to maintain the routine since children feel secure from the predictability of their schedule. Furthermore, the teacher should be as honest as possible with the children by sharing information and facts they are developmentally capable of handling. Notably, the teacher should listen to the students’ concerns and worries to find the most effective intervention to help them overcome the trauma. The educator should reassure them that the world is still a safe place regardless of such unfortunate incidents. Students should feel safe to continue learning in the same environment where the incident occurred.
Responding to and Addressing Families
Many family members find it difficult to express their feelings of worry, anxiety, and sadness in the wake of a traumatic incident at school. Families need reassurance that their children are safe after a traumatic event. In addition, parents should be prepared to provide the necessary emotional support to the traumatized children (Perfect, Turley, Carlson, Yohanna, & Saint Gilles, 2016). However, they can only continue the strong attachments if they overcome their terror following the incident. Hence, the teacher should work with all affected parents to reassure them of the continued safety of learners. They should receive as much information as possible about the incident.
Preparing Students for Future Traumatic Events
Instructors should teach students to remain proactive in identifying any suspicious people or activities as well as reporting channels in such occurrence. Schools should implement trauma-informed classroom strategies to prepare learners for the possibility of future traumatic events. Consequently, in case such incidents occur, the level of trauma will be minimal compared to situations where students are not prepared for the same (Perfect, Turley, Carlson, Yohanna, & Saint Gilles, 2016). Generally, children require preparation, management, and mastery to effectively deal with the possible threat of traumatic events at school and in other settings.
Critical Resources for Parents in Preparing for Traumatic Events
The teacher should share valuable resources with parents to prepare them for traumatic events affecting their children. The resources will train them to respond and support their children in case of a traumatic event at school. Some of the resources that can help parents prepare for traumatic events include the following:
- Helping Young Children and Families Cope with Trauma(SAMHSA National Child Traumatic Stress Network) [PDF]
- Tips for talking to children and youth after traumatic events: A guide for parents and educators(SAMHSA) [PDF]
- Parent Tips for Helping Infants and Toddlers after Disasters(SAMHSA) [PDF]
- Parent Tips for Helping Preschool-Age Children after Disasters(SAMHSA) [PDF]
- Parent Tips for Helping School-Age Children after Disasters(SAMHSA) [PDF]
- Parent Tips for Helping Adolescents after Disasters(SAMHSA) [PDF]