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Talking to Students About Tragic Events

Talking to Students About Tragic Events

How do you talk to your students when tragic events occur?

It seems like every time we turn on the news, another tragedy has occurred somewhere in the world, and whether it's happening more frequently or we're just exposed to more through 24/7 news coverage, we must be cognizant of the fact that our children are being exposed to these events as well. Because students have access to information on their cell phones and other digital devices, it's probably not very realistic to think we can shelter them completely from the goings-on in the world.

We can limit what they watch on television, but they will always find a way to gain online access, whether at school, on a friend's device or at friends' houses. So how do we talk to our students about deadly attacks and traumatic events that their minds are simply too young to truly understand? And how do we help parents talk to their children about these incidents when many times adults have difficulty comprehending how these things can happen?

Online resources and books abound on the topic, and many give great advice and strategies for dealing with this difficult but necessary topic. One of my favorite educational resources, Edutopia, came out with an article a couple of years ago that they recently updated, and I feel it's rich with resources on how to answer difficult questions and help students cope with anger, fear and other emotions that arise when tragedy strikes. The article also provides resources you can share with parents on how they can help their children at home, and it links to a variety of other helpful resources on the web.

If you know of other great material that would be helpful for others, please feel free to share, and I'll make sure to include it in upcoming articles.

Sarah Julian

Director, Communications

Sarah serves as the Director of Communications for the OPSRC. In this role, she provides support, consultation and training on a variety of critical tools and PR functions, including communication plans, social media policies, crisis communications, media relations and website content.

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