Helping Tweens and Teens Cope with School Tragedies

I have received several inquiries about how to help tweens and teens, who are also struggling with the recent school tragedy in Newtown.  Middle and high school students are old enough to ask pointed questions that may be difficult to answer.  On the other hand, they may too embarrassed to speak up about their concerns and fears.  Following are things that are important for tweens and teens to know. The information is written for them to read and think about. This information is available as a PDF download, for handing out to students, if desired.  The infomation provided in the download is replicated below:

Tips for Tweens and Teens on Coping with School Tragedies

After hearing about a school tragedy, even if it did not happen anywhere near your school, it is normal to have questions and concerns. You might wonder about your own safety. That is a normal reaction. It is important for you to know that school is statistically a very safe place for you to be. Here are some tips to help you cope:

1. Limit your exposure to media - Watching the events of a tragedy play out on TV and social media (facebook/twitter/tumblr/pinterest) repeatedly is not helpful. Most tragic situations occur in the course of minutes, but constant viewing of media and news make it available 24/7 for a long time following the tragedy. This is not beneficial to you.

2. Move It - If you are feeling stressed out, move your body. Participate in a favorite activity, sport or simply go for a walk or jog. Exercise is a proven way to decrease stress and anxiety.

3. Knowledge is Power - Know that school is statistically a safe place for you to be. School tragedies are incredibly sad and troubling when they happen, but they are statistically rare.

4. Focus on Positives - Focus on all of the helper people that went rushing in to assist with the tragedy. There are MANY more good people in this world than not. We need to always keep that in mind.

4. Talk, Talk, Talk - If you have concerns that are troubling you, talk to a trusted parent, a trusted adult, and teacher or school counselor/therapist. Don’t keep your fears or concerns to yourself.

5. When to Get More Help - Some people have stronger reactions than others to tragic events. This is nothing to be embarrassed or ashamed about. If you are having trouble concentrating in class, trouble sleeping, feeling more irritable than normal, feeling fearful of going to school, or other such concerns, seek help from your school counselor or therapist. Ask for help from a teacher, principal or favorite trusted adult. You can feel better about things and get back to feeling more like yourself.


Send Cards/Letters of Support to the Affected School/Community
I Remember that Kindness/Compassion is the Antidote to Violence…Create a Kindness Pledge for Your Entire School I Host a Fundraiser to Support the Affected School/Community I Create a Banner in Your School Lobby for All Students to Sign and Leave Messages of Support



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