Crisis Response Resources

National statistics indicate that approximately one out of every 1500-2000 students die or is killed each year, with the incidence of death being highest for the high school population. Unfortunately, many educators will deal with the death of a student or colleague; therefore, it is essential that school personnel prepare in advance so they can respond in a timely and supportive manner for all students. The School Psychology staff members have designed planning and support materials to help school personnel during a crisis.

Crisis Response Documents

1. In the event of a crisis, how can the adults help the children cope?

During a crisis, children, like most people, may be confused or frightened. They generally look to adults for information and guidance on how to react. Adults can help children cope by establishing a sense of safety and security. This is done by modeling calm and control, reassuring children that they are safe, validating their feelings, sticking to the facts and observing for changes in behaviors.

2. How does age factor into my explanations of what happened?

Keep your explanations developmentally appropriate. Early elementary school children need brief, simple information that should be balanced with reassurances that the daily structures of their lives will not change. Upper elementary and early middle school children will be more vocal in asking questions about whether they truly are safe and what is being done at their school. They may need assistance separating reality from fantasy. Upper middle school and high school students will have strong and varying opinions about the causes of violence and threats to safety in schools and society. They tend to want details. They will be more committed to doing something to help the victims and affected community. For all children, encourage them to verbalize their thoughts and feelings. Be a good listener!

3. How much should I tell my students?

Tell children the truth. Don't try to pretend the event has not occurred or that it is not serious. Stick to the facts. Don't embellish about what has happened or what might happen. Information travels fast and children are smart. If they do not feel you are telling them the truth, they will cease to look to you for answers. This increases their anxiety level because they need to believe you will keep them safe.

4. What advice can I provide for parents?

Reassure parents that they can assist their child deal with grief by:

  • Making time to talk with their child.
  • Staying close to their child as physical presence is reassuring.
  • Limiting their child's television viewing of the crisis.
  • Maintaining a "normal" routine as much as possible.
  • Engaging in activities, such as reading or playing a quiet game with their child before bed.
  • Monitoring for changes in eating, sleeping or moods.