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Resources for Educators, Families to Discuss School Shootings

Our students want and need to talk about what they see, remember, and are feeling following a school shooting. The adults in their lives can provide guidance and support to help youth navigate their own emotions and trauma in a healthy, safe, and productive way. Adults also need to be able to acknowledge and address their own emotional responses in order to best support young people. 

Recognizing and Honoring Big Feelings

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) 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.

The County of San Diego’s Deputy Director for Behavioral Health Services Dr. Piedad Garcia shares ways to respond to children following violent events. The article is also available in Spanish.  

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.

Common Sense Media has suggestions on how to talk to kids about school shootings in a way that’s age appropriate and helps them feel safe again. Child Mind Institute offers strategies to help kids deal with trauma.

Very Well Family provides open-ended questions to discuss school shootings with your child.

School Safety

While we know schools remain among the safest places for students, we also know that today's shooting in Uvalde, Texas may understandably cause heightened emotions and concern about safety issues.

You can't educate students without them being safe; it's a responsibility San Diego County school leaders and employees take very seriously. Every San Diego County school has a safety plan and procedures that contribute to maintaining a safe learning environment for our students. School personnel will be reviewing those plans and continuing to implement best practices in maintaining the safety and security of our schools.

San Diego County school districts work closely with law enforcement agencies to build systems that aim to prevent violent episodes in local schools. SDCOE staff members provide training, technical assistance, and direct services to assist school districts in developing and supporting their Comprehensive School Safety Plans.

  • The SDCOE Diamond Safety Team training is scheduled June 13-16 for school leaders, resource officers, school counselors, social workers, and school psychologists to work together in creating a safe campus. 


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