School officials post article: Talking with children about violence

Milford school officials are trying to help parents who want to find a way to talk to their children following this week’s shooting in Parkland, Fla., in which a gunman killed 17 people at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.

The public school system posted on its website an article called “Talking With Your Children About Violence.”

“This reference piece can provide you with some great conversation starters in discussing such a difficult topic,” school officials say on the site.

The piece says, “High profile acts of violence, particularly in schools, can confuse and frighten children who may feel in danger or worry that their friends or loved-ones are at risk. They will look to adults for information and guidance on how to react.”

The article states that parents and school personnel can help children feel safe by establishing a sense of normalcy and security and talking with them about their fears.

“Reassure children that they are safe. Emphasize that schools are very safe. Validate their feelings. Explain that all feelings are okay when a tragedy occurs,” the article states.

The list of recommendations was prepared by the National Association of School Psychologists.

“Let children talk about their feelings, help put them into perspective, and assist them in expressing these feelings appropriately,” the piece continues.

Psychologists also recommend getting children to talk, and to let their questions be a guide to what information should be provided. It may not always be easy to know when a child has questions, but the psychologists said adults should watch for clues, such as children “hovering around while you do the dishes or yard work.”

The piece also suggests keeping explanations developmentally appropriate.

“Early elementary school children need brief, simple information that should be balanced with reassurances that their school and homes are safe and that adults are there to protect them,” the article states. “Give simple examples of school safety like reminding children about exterior doors being locked, child monitoring efforts on the playground, and emergency drills practiced during the school day.”

With upper elementary and early middle school children, parents may want to discuss efforts by school and community leaders to provide safe schools.

Upper middle school and high school students are likely to share suggestions about how to make schools safer. The article says parents should emphasize the role that students play in keeping schools safe, such as not letting strangers into the building, reporting strangers on campus, and reporting threats to the school.

The piece also suggests that parents limit television viewing of tragedies like the Florida school shooting, and that they take note of things they are saying in the presence of their children.

“Adults also need to be mindful of the content of conversations that they have with each other in front of children, even teenagers, and limit their exposure to vengeful, hateful, and angry comments that might be misunderstood,” the piece states.

The psychologists also recommend sticking to a normal routine.

“Senseless violence is hard for everyone to understand,” the psychologists say. “Doing things that you enjoy, sticking to your normal routine, and being with friends and family help make us feel better and keep us from worrying about the event.”

The entire article can be found at