Message from the School Counselor – Resources for talking with children about school tragedies

May 25, 2022

Dear NYA Families,

Novelist Min Jin Lee: “Our bodies are not designed to absorb and process this much violence, loss, and grief.”

The eyes of the world are on the small community of Uvalde, Texas for the horrific mass murder of innocent children during a normal school day. Our hearts are with the families who are numb with grief, and will need to find purpose and ways to move forward. We feel for the siblings who lost a brother or sister and may live with trauma symptoms if they were also in the school. The devastating effect of this violence will permeate this community for a generation. The trauma ripples throughout the community to the educators who were the actual first responders at the scene, to florists who assist families with funeral arrangements, and police and fire fighters who may see a premature end to their careers. Uvalde is now uniquely connected to the communities of Columbine, Sandy Hook, and Parkland. And for those communities, their trauma relives with each subsequent act of mass violence.

All of this is out of our control, but there are things that adults can do to protect our children. First, adults need to do their own homework! This is by learning how to respond in an emergency situation and feel confident about protecting your child. Young children may ask questions, and you will have a clear plan, explained in a simple way that will keep them assured. Gone are the days of talking to our children only about stranger danger. For parents of Middle School and Upper School students, it is time to talk about safety and prevention.  Give them the skills to manage an emergency and develop a reunification plan.  This is an empowering life skill that they can take with them as they launch into more challenging social situations.

At NYA, our students range developmentally. For some, this may be their first out-of-home experience, and others are about to head off to adulthood, plus all the ages in between. The conversations about school shootings are also wide ranging, as well as the range of reactions students experience in response to the news. An open dialogue is the most effective way to empower your child during times of uncertainty. Below are links to some resources that may be helpful. I can be reached at chould@nya.org if you have any questions.

With Peace and Hope,

Cindy Hould, LMFT
Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist
NYA School Counselor