HELPFUL ADVICE: Talking to Children about the Boston Marathon Tragedy

We have a lot of respect for the people at Child Mind Institute and found this letter from their president very useful.
Dear friends,
The senseless violence at the Boston Marathon is upsetting to all of us, and it’s particularly painful to watch the videos and see the photos of yesterday’s events.  Our hearts go out to those affected by this tragedy, as well as their families and loved ones.  

I wish I could tell you how to protect your students from fear and pain—I can’t. They may have learned that some of the victims were children like them, or seen the disturbing images. What I can do is share some thoughts on how to help them process these events in the healthiest way.

It’s important for you to acknowledge the event and give your students an opportunity to express their feelings about it. You should invite, but not force, questions, and answer them as simply as possible, in a developmentally appropriate way. It’s likely that some of your students will be worried about their own safety; you can respond to this by reassuring them that incidents like these are very rare.

Keep in mind that this won't be the last time you talk about this tragedy; coming to terms with this will take time, and can involve transitioning to positive ways your class or school can act to bring comfort to the people in Boston.

If you think that one of your students has been seriously impacted, please don’t hesitate to reach out to the Child Mind Institute (212.308.3118). A collection of our trauma resources for parents and teachers can be found on childmind.org here.
 
Yours truly,

Harold

Harold S. Koplewicz, MD
President, Child Mind Institute
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