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District 87 Reacts: Officials Address School Safety; Expert Tips for How to Talk with Children

District 87 officials react to the shooting at the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, CT. In addition, we share information on how to talk with your children about the tragedy.

As the nation and world react to the tragic events in , officials at Glenbard District 87 are reassuring parents that all is being done to keep students safe in its high schools.

At least one gunman, identified as Adam Lanza, attacked a suburban Connecticut elementary school Friday, killing an estimated 26 people, including 18 children, law enforcement sources said.

The Chicago Tribune reports that Adam Lanza's older brother, 24-year-old Ryan, of Hoboken, N.J., was being questioned. The boys' mother, Nancy Lanza, worked at the school as a teacher and is presumed dead, the Tribune reports.

It was reported that a total of 28 people were dead, including 20 students, six adults at the school, the shooter and another adult found at a residence.

In a message to the District 87 School community, District Superientendent David Larson said: 

As you likely know by now, there was a shooting in an elementary school in Newtown, Connecticut this morning. In these difficult times, our thoughts are with the families and community of Newtown. This tragedy is a reminder that we must always be mindful of the need for strong safety protocols in our schools. In Glenbard District 87, we continually assess our safety procedures and emphasize school safety measures. 

While there is no plan that can completely prevent a random act of senseless violence, please note that Glenbard has a school safety plan in place that has been reviewed by law enforcement officials, administrators and staff.

Safety is our top priority, and we regularly conduct various drills, including lockdown drills and off-site evacuations. We train and plan carefully with emergency responders.

In the event of an emergency, we would post information on our websites, as well as use our automated phone notification system to share critical information. It is important that you check that all of your contact information in PowerSchool is accurate and up-to-date. We also would issue a special Glenbard News e-newsletter message.

Please remind your student that the safety of our schools is a shared responsibility. If anyone is ever aware of a situation that could compromise our safety, that person should contact an adult immediately. Also, please remind your student of the need to follow the direction of school staff and emergency personnel in the event of an emergency.

In a report, the National Child Traumatic Stress Network offers tips for parents on how to talk with children after a shooting. Here are some of the highlights:

Talk about the shooting with your child. Not talking about it can make the event even more threatening in your child’s mind. Silence suggests that what has occurred is too horrible even to speak about or that you do not know what has happened.With social media (e.g., Facebook, Twitter, text messages, newsbreaks on favorite radio and TV stations, and others), it is highly unlikely that children and teenagers have not heard about this. Chances are your child has heard about it, too.

Start by asking what your child/teen already has heard about the events from the media and from friends. Listen carefully; try to figure out what heor she knows or believes. As your child explains, listen for misinformation, misconceptions, and underlying fears or concerns. Understand that this information will change as more factsabout the shooting are known.

Gently correct inaccurate information. If your child/teen has inaccurate information ormisconceptions, take time to provide the correct information in simple, clear, age-appropriate language.

Encourage your child to ask questions, and answer those questions directly. Your child/teenmay have some difficult questions about the incident. For example, she may ask if it is possible that it could happen at your local school; she is probably really askingwhether it is “likely.” The concern about re-occurrence will be an issue for caregivers and children/teens alike. While it is important to discuss the likelihood of this risk, she is alsoasking if she is safe.

Do give any information you have on the help and support the victims and their families are receiving. Let her know that the person responsible isunder arrest and cannot hurt anyone else. Like adults, children/teens are better able to cope with a difficult situation when they have the facts about it. Having question-and-answer talks gives your child ongoing support as he or she begins to cope with the range of emotions stirred up by this tragedy.

Limit media exposure. Limit your child’s exposure to media images and sounds of theshooting, and do not allow your very young children to see or hear any TV/radio shooting-related messages. Even if they appear to be engrossed in play, children often are aware ofwhat you are watching on TV or listening to on the radio. What may not be upsetting to an adult may be very upsetting and confusing for a child. Limit your own exposure as well. Adults may become more distressed with nonstop exposure to media coverage of this shooting.

Be a positive role model. Consider sharing your feelings about the events with your child/teen, but at a level they can understand. You may express sadness and empathy for the victims and their families. You may share some worry, but it is important to also shareideas for coping with difficult situations like this tragedy. When you speak of the quick response by law enforcement and medical personnel to help the victims (and the heroic orgenerous efforts of ordinary citizens), you help your child/teen see that there can be good, even in the midst of such a horrific event.

Be patient. In times of stress, children/teens may have trouble with their behavior, concentration, and attention. While they may not openly ask for your guidance or support,they will want it. Adolescents who are seeking increased independence may have difficulty expressing their needs. Both children and teens will need a little extra patience, care, and love. (Be patient with yourself, too!)

In addition, the National PTA  has many resources to assist students, families, schools and PTAs in coping with school violence. The resources are downloadable at PTA.org/SchoolViolence.

More on Newtown Patch:

  • Patch Exclusive: 'It Wasn't Me' Man Named as Shooter Writes
  • Connecticut Reels From Horrific School Shooting
  • Connecticut School Shooting

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