After hearing the news about the Connecticut school shooting, I am dumbfounded. I simply can’t believe that someone would kill innocent children! As preteen and kidmin leaders, how do we respond? As parents, how do we respond? The answers to those questions exceed my level of expertise.
However, I did come across someone who has good advice for parents. Her name is Linda Ransom Jacobs. She is the developer of DivorceCare for Kids (DC4K) and a writer at DivorceMinistry4Kids. She is a mother, a grandmother and a long-time childcare owner and operator including one childcare facility located in Oklahoma during the OKC bombings in the 1990’s.
She wrote a blog post about how parents can respond to the Connecticut shooting. I am re-posting most of it below. Read the full article here. A big thanks to Wayne Stocks who posted the link to her blog on his Facebook page.
In the words of Linda:
1. Parents please do not rush to your child’s school and hug them fiercely. Remember they have been in school and might know what has taken place. They will pick up on your fretfulness.
2. Turn off the TV. I can’t say this loud enough TURN OFF THE TV. Younger children can’t tell the difference in reality and non reality. To them every time they see something on the shooting they will think another school has been attacked and will wonder if their school is next.
3. Do not talk to other adults about this shooting in front of your children. Children don’t understand speculation.
4. Try to keep yourself calm. Kids WILL pick up on your anxieties. Promise you they will.
5. At a calm moment sit down with your children and ask them what they know about the school shooting. Ask them what they want to know. Explain things in as calm a voice as you can.
6. Don’t lie to your children. When they ask you why this happened, tell them you don’t know. If they ask why God would allow this to happen, tell them God did not want this to happen and He wants them to be safe. Sometimes bad people do bad things.
8. Ask your children to pray with you for the families of the children and the teachers that were hurt or died (depending on the age of your child). Continue to pray for the children and their families at Sandy Hook Elementary School for the next few days.
7. Pull your children up on your lap and tell your children they are safe right now. You can only guarantee your child’s safety in the moment and for now that is what they need.
8. If I had elementary age children right now I’d talk to them about listening to their teachers when an emergency happens. Some schools might start practicing what to do in a shooting situation.I know we practiced escape routes, etc. in our child care. We talked a lot about what would happen if a bomber came to our program. We asked the kids to take some responsibility in helping us be on the look out. Kids will take their responsibility seriously. If presented wisely kids will be very mature about it all. We talked about keeping each other safe. We also talked about what to do if a shooter should appear. We actually had some situations we had to prepare in advance for in regards to keeping all kids safe. We explained to the kids that we have safety measures in place.
(Thanks Linda for the advice!)
Thanks to Kathie Phillips, I came across this article on childrensministry.com, How Children Respond to News, and have quoted ages 11-12 year below. I think the article offers some really good tips on how we as parents and leaders can respond.
HOW CHILDREN RESPOND TO THE NEWS (AGES 11-12)
Older children better understand events that don’t relate to them. They also begin to understand long-term implications of events, such as environmental issues. But they still view these issues in a simplistic, right-or-wrong way and don’t understand the complexities of these issues.
HOW TO RESPOND
Be honest. Don’t hide the truth. You lose your credibility when children find out you’re not truthful. If an environmental issue comes up, for example, present all of the relevant facts pertinent to the issue. Then calmly discuss the event and its implications for the children directly and indirectly. Remind children of God’s control and sovereignty in the world. This may, however, lead to an interesting discussion of why God allows evil, pain and bad things to happen to people. Be prepared.
Here is another great article to read at MobSociety.com – How & What to Share with your Children When Tragedy Strikes
The Connecticut school shooting is an absolute national tragedy! I honestly don’t even know where to begin praying about the situation. Share you comments and prayers below.