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Resources for Educators, Families to Discuss Mass Shootings in the Community

Resources for Educators, Families to Discuss Mass Shootings in the Community
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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. 

Talking to Children About Hate Crimes

  • The National Mass Violence Victimization Resource Center has a tipsheet for adults and educators on how to talk with children about hate crimes. 
  • At the federal level, a hate crime is defined as a criminal offense motivated in whole or in part by the offender's bias against a race, religion, disability, ethnic or national origin, sexual orientation, gender, or gender identity. The U.S. Department of Justice and FBI have a Hate Crime Threat Response Guide to help us protect our communities together. 


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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 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.

NCTSN also provides strategies to assist parents, caregivers, and school staff members to cope with collective trauma

  • 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.

  • 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.   

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