Student Well-Being

Tackling Grief After Newtown, Now and Later

By Ross Brenneman — December 18, 2012 2 min read
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With the outpouring of grief over the Newtown, Conn. school massacre, a similar outpouring of support offers lifelines for those affected emotionally by the tragedy, both near and far from Sandy Hook.

While many resources focus on children, many supports exist for teachers, administrators, parents, and community members, too.

It’s probably worth noting, if only as a means of reinforcement, that taking advantage of such resources in the immediate aftermath of the Sandy Hook shootings will probably do some small amount of good. But don’t forget about long-term health either. Children exposed to violence may begin showing signs of post-traumatic stress disorder far from now. Even though the media coverage of the event inevitably will begin to decline doesn’t mean any of the social-emotional problems fade, too.

Here’s a compilation of resources, from across Education Week coverage and many other sites, too:

For all of us, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration runs a 24-hour hotline for immediate crisis counseling.

For schools and communities broadly, the U.S. Department of Education and Department of Justice published “Safeguarding Our Children: An Action Guide” in 2000. Much of the advice still seems pertinent, though. In addition, University of Rochester professor Bonnie Rubenstein just published a Commentary here on Education Week with several pieces of advice for helping children cope.

The National PTA offers a bevy of resources for parents and teachers on how to manage distress.

For teachers specifically, the National Education Association has a school crisis guide with advice on how to make pupils feel safe and secure.

The Center for Adoption Support & Education notes that the mass shooting may summon past unhappy memories for students with childhood trauma, in whom anxiety may already be particularly high, and provides ideas to parents on how to offer reassurance and support.

Not to state the obvious, either, but for those with health insurance plans, especially through employers or colleges, there’s a chance you’ll be at least partially covered for seeking therapy.

Within Newtown itself, the parents of children who survived the attack created a relief fund that hopes to raise $2 million for those with family losses. The state of Connecticut, meanwhile, is stepping in to provide mental-health resources and counseling to Newtown and its other districts.

If all else fails, don’t be afraid to have a good cry, either. Experts agree that acknowledging the emotions and working through them, both individually and with others, are essential to the grieving process.

Photo: A young girl waves as her school bus pulls into Hawley Elementary School on Tuesday in Newtown, Conn. Classes resumed Tuesday for Newtown K-12 public schools, except for those at Sandy Hook Elementary, the site of Friday’s shooting. (Jason DeCrow/AP)

A version of this news article first appeared in the Rules for Engagement blog.