Helping Children Cope with the Threat of Violence

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Written by Hannah Evenson, clinical social work intern

It has become clear that gone are the days where we can consider our schools to be the safest space for our children as countless threats of violence seem to happen around the country almost weekly. So what can we do as a community to combat this wave of threats that are not only influencing our school system, but also the well-being and mental health of our students? School violence as well as threats of school violence can create a lot of angst within the students and as such it often manifests in different ways such as fear, over zealousness or even anger. When a threat of violence happens to disrupt your child’s safety in their school setting as a parent there are some simple things to do with your child to help them feel protected and safe.  Fortunately, most people are resilient and are able to bounce back over a course of time from a traumatic event there are things that we can do as parents to help our children bounce back such as

  • Give yourself time to adjust. Going through a traumatic event can take time to process; don’t feel like you have to just “get over it”.  Take as much time as you need to process what happened.
  • Ask for support from people who care about you and who will listen and empathize with your situation.  Connection is a key principle to healing, surround yourself with family and friends.
  • Communicate your experience. Talk to your family or friends about how you are feeling about what happened. If you don’t have family or friends schedule an appointment with one of our therapists at Pennock.
  • Engage in healthy behaviors to enhance your ability to cope with excessive stress. Self care is very important after you have gone through something traumatic or alarming.  It can be something as easy as taking a 5 min walk outside in the sunshine or making sure you are getting plenty of sleep.
  • Establish or reestablish routines. This can include eating meals at regular times, sleeping and waking on a regular cycle, or following an exercise program. Build in some positive routines to have something to look forward to during these distressing times, like pursuing a hobby, walking through an attractive park or neighborhood, or reading a good book.

By doing these things you can create a sense of safety within your home despite the ongoing threats of violence within the school systems. As always, if you feel like either you or your child is overwhelmed or could potentially be at harm to themselves or others take immediate action.