We work hard to ensure our schools are safe, welcoming places for all students and families to learn and thrive. Parents and school personnel can help children feel safe by establishing a sense of normalcy and security and talking with them about their fears. No matter how old your kids are, threatening or upsetting news can affect them emotionally. What can you do as a parent to help your kids process information that can be unsettling? Here are some tips to help with family conversations at home.

Tips for talking to children about violence and traumatic incidents

We work hard to ensure our schools are safe, welcoming places for all students and families to learn and thrive. Parents and school personnel can help children feel safe by establishing a sense of normalcy and security and talking with them about their fears. No matter how old your kids are, threatening or upsetting news can affect them emotionally. What can you do as a parent to help your kids process information that can be unsettling? Here are some tips to help with family conversations at home.

Your kids will look to the way you handle the news to determine their own approach. If you stay calm and rational, they will, too.

Reassure children that they are safe. 

Emphasize that schools are very safe. Validate their feelings. Let children talk about their feelings, help put them into perspective, and assist them in expressing these feelings appropriately.

Make time to talk. 

Let their questions be your guide as to how much information to provide. Be patient; children and youth do not always talk about their feelings readily. Watch for clues that they may want to talk. Young children may need concrete activities (such as drawing, looking at picture books, or imaginative play) to help them identify and express their feelings.

Keep your explanations developmentally appropriate.

Early elementary school – provide simple information balanced by assurance of safety.

Upper elementary and early middle school – answer questions and assist in separating reality from fantasy.

Upper middle school and high school – students will have strong and varying opinions about the causes of violence in schools and society. Emphasize student role in safety and how to access support.

Review safety procedures.

This should include procedures and safeguards at school and at home. Help children identify at least one adult at school and in the community to whom they go if they feel threatened or at risk.

Observe children’s emotional state.

Some children may not express their concerns verbally. Changes in behavior, appetite, and sleep patterns can also indicate a child’s level of anxiety or discomfort. Seek the help of mental health professional if you are at all concerned.

Maintain a normal routine. 

Keeping to a regular schedule can be reassuring and promote physical and mental health. Encourage them to keep up with their schoolwork and extracurricular activities but don’t push them if they seem overwhelmed. Limit/be aware of media exposure.

Topics in the News- Traumatic Events
Additional Community Resources
Racism and Anti-Semitism

How to talk to children about anti-Semitism

Teaching about anti-Semitism

How to talk to your kids about the violence in Charlottesville

National Education Association (NEA): Resources to address the recent events in Charlottesville

Teaching Tolerance: Website from a community of educators committed to diversity, equity and justice

Grief Resources

Things You Can Do To Help

Tips for Supporting Grieving Children

Helping Children Cope with Loss, Death and Grief

Our TreeHouse - Our TreeHouse provides resources and support in Whatcom County to grieving children, teens, their families, and their communities.

Helping Children Cope: Teacher Resources for Talking About Tragedy

LGBTQ+ and Gender Identity
Immigration Legal Services

Northwest Immigrant Rights Project (NWIRP)
Northwest Immigrant Rights Project promotes justice by defending and advancing the rights of immigrants through direct legal services, systemic advocacy, and community education.
Website: nwirp.org
Phone: 206.587.4009

Colectiva Legal del Pueblo
Colectiva Legal del Pueblo is a non-hierarchal collective organization founded for and by undocumented immigrants working to build community leadership and power for migrant justice through legal advocacy and education.
Website: colectivalegal.org
Phone: 206.931.1514

American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) Referral Service
AILA is the only legal association in the United States for immigration attorneys. More than 14,000 immigration lawyers are members of AILA.
Website: ailalawyer.com
Email: ils@aila.org

Skagit Immigrant Rights Council

CCS Family Immigration Service
Website: http://www.skagitirc.org
Email: skagitIRC@gmail.com

General Legal Services
Washington LawHelp
Washington LawHelp is a guide to free civil legal services for low-income persons and seniors in Washington. This site provides legal education materials and tools that give you basic information on a number of legal problems, and in some cases, detailed instructions and forms to help you represent yourself in court.

 

Northwest Justice Project CLEAR Hotline
NJP’s mission is to secure justice through high quality legal advocacy that promotes the long-term well-being of low-income individuals, families, and communities.
Website: nwjustice.org
Phone: 888.201.1014

 

Legal Counsel for Youth and Children (LCYC)
Legal Counsel for Youth and Children provides specialized, holistic legal advocacy for children in child welfare proceedings and other juvenile court matters.
Website: lcycwa.com
Phone: 206.494.0323
Discrimination in Employment, Housing, Others
WA State Human Rights Commission
The mission of the Washington State Human Rights Commission is to prevent and eliminate discrimination through the fair application of the law, the efficient use of resources, and the establishment of productive partnerships in the community.
Website: hum.wa.gov
Phone: 800.233.3247
Whatcom Civil Rights Project