A Message From the Director of the National Federation of Families for Children’s Mental Health

From the desk of Sandra Spencer, CEO of NFFCMH:

“My heart goes out to the families of the victims, the students who witnessed the violence, and the community of Newtown, CT. We never fully understand why these things occur. With each, tragic event we always look for clues that could have prevented the incident. We all have to be vigilant and teach our children to be vigilant in reporting any potential threat of violence. We all need to know what to do, who to tell and where to go for help. We have to create a safe environment, free from shame and stigma, so that young people will seek help.”

NFFCMH offers the following suggestions for teachers and parents as they communicate with young people:

  • Communicate empathy for all who were involved
  • Talk honestly about the incident and base conversations upon the developmental level of the young person
  • Don’t pretend that you have the answers. Encourage young people to think about how we, as a community can design solutions.
  • Keep the dialogue going, even after the media coverage subsides.

Pay attention! If you are concerned about a young person’s reaction, seek help.

Resources include: Disaster Distress Helpline (DDH) via phone 1-800-985-5990 or text “TalkWithUs” to 66746. This helpline is dedicated to crisis counseling related to disaster/trauma and is available 24 hours/day, 7 days/week.

Additional Resources from Child Mind Institute:

A collection of our  trauma resources for parents and teachers can be found on childmind.org here. And here are some tips for your students’ parents about helping kids worried about going back to school after a tragedy.

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