Resources for Educators, Families to Discuss Mass Shootings in the Community
Supporting Students After a Mass Shooting
When there are horrific mass shootings in our country, our young people need a safe space to share their thoughts, worries, or fears.
We may be physically removed from the shootings, but that doesn’t mean the topic isn’t top of mind for educators, students, and families.
Our students want and need to talk about what they see, remember, and are feeling now; they need the guidance and safety of adults in their schools to be able to navigate their own emotions and trauma in a healthy, safe, and productive way.
General Resources Following Mass Shootings
- The National Association of School Psychologists (NASP) tips for parents and educators to talk with children about violence suggests adults:
- Reassure children they are safe and review safety procedures.
- Create a sense of safety by returning to normal, predictable routines as soon as possible.
- Make time to talk and listen to the concerns and feelings of children.
- Limit the use of media consumption of these events to lower their stress and to maintain balance and perspective.
- Acknowledge that sleep difficulties are common and can lead to fatigue and poor participation.
- The American Psychological Association (APA) recommends honesty with children – acknowledging that bad things do happen, but reassuring them with the information that many people are working to keep them safe, including their parents, teachers, and law enforcement. The APA also advises limiting children’s exposure to news coverage following such traumatic events.
- Helping Children Cope With Terrorism from NASP offers tips for families and educators. Translations of this handout are available in Amharic, Chinese, French, Korean, Spanish, and Vietnamese. There is also a companion infographic.
Talking to Children About Hate Crimes
- Additional ADL materials that may also be useful include these lesson plans on responding to hate and violence and on swastikas and other hate symbols.
- How to Talk to Kids About Violence, Crime, and War from Common Sense Media gathers tips and conversation starters to help talk to kids of different ages about the toughest topics.
- The ChildMind Institute explores ways to support your children while navigating your own emotions in the Talking to Kids About Racism and Violence webpage.
- The National Mass Violence Victimization Resource Center has a tipsheet for adults and educators on how to talk with children about hate crimes.
Wellness and Mental Health Resources for Students, Adults
SDCOE offers training and support related to school safety, school climate and culture, and student mental health and well-being. Learn more about student support topics, and find the training calendar.
- The Virtual Wellness Center has resources and tools for parents and educators.
- Youth Mental Health First Aid helps provide initial help to young people showing signs of a mental illness crisis and connect them with the appropriate professional, peer, social, or self-help care.
- Compilation of mental health resources for parents, students, and educators.
The National Child Traumatic Stress Network provides resources that can be filtered by topic or keyword and by audience with a focus on how adults can identify traumatic responses in young people and how to support them.
Ways Adults Can Manage Their Own Feelings Following a Shooting
The American Psychological Association (APA) has tips for managing your own distress following a mass shooting including:
- Reaching out for support from other adults (friend or professional)
- Honoring your feelings and taking time for yourself, especially if you’re experiencing personal loss or grief
- Limiting your amount of media coverage of these events
- Find ways to help in your community
Call the National Parent Helpline at 1-855-4A PARENT (1-855-427-2736) to get emotional support from a trained Advocate. They are available Monday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.
- Have compassion for yourself
- Acknowledge how your identities are being impacted
- Self-reflect before reacting
- Limit media and social media exposure
Teaching Resources for Educators
As with all difficult topics, educators should be keenly aware of the emotional impact these events have on students. Teachers should pay close attention to students who may be especially worried about this happening to them or their family. Before beginning a discussion, teachers are encouraged to consult resources for conducting class discussions such as Facing History and Ourselves’ Fostering Civil Discourse (PDF).
Links to Learn From
The resources contained below are intended solely to provide access to information. Educators know their students and school community best and should determine whether the resource best fits the need.
- AllSides is a source for current events that shares information and ideas from all sides of the political spectrum. The site gathered the latest headlines about the Buffalo shooting and gun violence.
- SDCOE's School Leaders Guide to Create Healing Dialogue Space can help when facilitating conversations in the classroom around emotionally-charged topics.
- Facing History and Ourselves created Teaching in the Wake of Violence, a guide for teachers to navigate conversations with their students after news of a mass shooting, terrorist attack, or other violent event.
Resources Related to Specific Events
- The Horrific Mass Shooting in Buffalo: How to Talk with Young People, from ADL, offers resources specific to the shooting.
More to explore
Families in San Diego can get used laptop and desktop computers loaded with educational software for as little as $100 at a drive-thru event Oct. 7 from 9 to 11:30 a.m. at San Marcos Elementary School. The program is organized by SDCOE and Computers 2 Kids.
Tune in Oct. 1 at 9 p.m. to “Cox Presents: Salute to Teachers,” a 30-minute special that includes highlights from the Aug. 25 event and shares the stories of the five teachers named 2023-24 San Diego County Teachers of the Year.
The Escondido Union High School District hosted the U.S. Army “Meet Your Army Career Fair” at Orange Glen High School on Sept. 18 and San Pasqual High School on Sept. 20.
The San Diego County Board of Education unanimously passed a resolution recognizing September as National Suicide Prevention Month.
Monarch School students are taking a college-level film studies course thanks to a partnership with City College.
Register now for the annual Live Well Advance Conference and School Summit on Nov. 1. The event connects participants, community leaders, and organizations in advancing a shared vision of a healthy, safe, and thriving San Diego region.