Dealing with Tragedy

Dear Parents, Caretakers, and Members of the Rye Community

All of us at the Rye Youth Council are deeply saddened by the  unfathomable and horrific high school shooting that occurred yesterday  in Parkland, Florida. 

When a tragic event like this happens, our first instinct as parents,  caregivers, and community members usually is to find the best way to  help our children. We want to help them manage their feelings and make  sense of a senseless act. Seeking out expert advice, therapeutic  suggestions, or help from others to provide comfort and guidance is a  natural instinct.

Yet, before we can support our children and utilize these valuable  resources, we as parents and caregivers can benefit from taking time to  acknowledge our own feelings of sadness, concern or overwhelm. News of  yet another school shooting can create real fear and anxiety. Talking  with a spouse, a trusted relative, friend, or other parents is a great  place to start. Taking time out to express your own feelings and take  care of yourself first will likely help you collect your thoughts and  make you more capable of helping your child.  

With that in mind, the Rye Youth Council is here for the Rye community,  parents and youth. Our office is open to anyone who would like to come  in to talk with our youth educator, Jessica Lodato, or for resources on  how to talk with and provide comfort to children. We also are attaching here  the comprehensive list of Rye City School District resources, recently  sent by Superintendent Dr. Eric Byrne, which are available to any parent  or student in the school district who is in need of support. 

In talking with children, we suggest:  

  • Acknowledging children's feelings.   
    • Listen to their fears and concerns. Let their concerns and questions be the guide for how much information to provide. 
    • Listen  to their thoughts and point of view - don't interrupt - and allow them  to express their ideas and understanding before you respond. 
    • Acknowledge what happened, be honest with kids and share developmentally appropriate information. Please visit the National Association of School Psychologists website for age-appropriate conversation guidelines.
  • Attending school is part of their everyday routine, so being present in school is highly recommended.     
  • Limiting exposure to the news and social media.
  • Reassuring kids that the world is a good place to be while we acknowledge that there are people who do bad things.
  • Reaffirming our children's familiar attachments and relationships. Reassuring them that home is a safe place.
  • Seeking out familiar, trusted in-school educators or mental health professionals as needed.  

Additional resources of trusted information on how to talk with your children:
Child Mind Institute
Mental Health America - Talking to Kids About School Safety
NBC News: Helping Your Kids Feel Safe When the World Feels Out of Control

Stay informed