Child is fearful of school violence

My nine-year-old keeps talking about the Littleton, Colorado shooting. She is worried that it might happen in her school. I don't know what to say or do, especially since the middle school in our town received two publicized threats.

Question:

I think that it is important for you to share this information with your daughter's teacher and the administrator at her school. They need to know that there are children who are concerned about dangers that can reach them at school. Teachers and administrators don't need to go into the details of that tragedy, but they should take some time to explain to students the precautions that the staff uses in order to prevent something like that from happening at their own school.

With the new school year just under way, I would imagine that your daughter's school has practiced at least some of the aspects of their safety plan already. Regular drills may be conducted to allow the children the opportunity to practice safe behavior in a crisis situation. The importance of knowing the right thing to do in an emergency can be very comforting to children.

Communication, as in most cases, is certainly a key here. Your daughter needs to know that she can discuss her feelings with you and that you will listen. Let her know that school is a safe place and that the teachers, staff and parents do everything they can to make sure that nothing bad happens to the students at the school.

For more information about how to talk to your child about her fear, ask your daughter's teacher or the school principal for a referral. The district probably employs counselors who may be able to suggest some books, videos or other materials that can help you further.

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