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NNPS addressing safety protocols
(December 16, 2012) - Like so many across our nation, the Newport News Public Schools' family is deeply saddened by the tragic events that occurred at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut. Each day in Newport News Public Schools, we focus on safety and security while we educate our students. In support of the initiatives already in place additional safety measures will be implemented this week: a security officer will be assigned to all elementary schools, all schools will have increased police presence, and every school staff member will review their school's crisis management plans.
Tragedies can be difficult for children and teens to comprehend, to assist our students, families and staff, support services will be accessible throughout the school day. All school counselors and psychologists will be available to talk and provide counsel. If you would like a counselor to meet with your child, please call your school office.
Newport News Public Schools will continue to monitor and address safety protocols. As an additional resource, tips and suggestions on assisting children with tragedy is provided below.
Tips for Assisting Children With Tragedy Provided by the National Association of School Psychologists
Reassure children that they are safe. Emphasize that schools are very safe. Validate their feelings. Explain that all feelings are okay when a tragedy occurs. Let children talk about their feelings, help put them into perspective, and assist them in expressing these feelings appropriately.
Make time to talk. Let their questions be your guide as to how much information to provide. Be patient. Children and youth do not always talk about their feelings readily.
Keep your explanations developmentally appropriate.
Early elementary school children need brief, simple information that should be balanced with reassurances that their school and homes are safe and that adults are there to protect them.
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. Discuss efforts of school and community leaders to provide safe schools.
Upper middle school and high school students will have strong and varying opinions about the causes of violence in schools and society. They will share concrete suggestions about how to make school safer and how to prevent tragedies in society. Emphasize the role that students have in maintaining safe schools by following school safety guidelines communicating any personal safety concerns to school administrators, and accessing support for emotional needs.
Review safety procedures. This should include procedures and safeguards at school and at home. Help children identify at least one adult at school and in the community to whom they go if they feel threatened or at risk.
Observe children's emotional state. Some children may not express their concerns verbally. Changes in behavior, appetite, and sleep patterns can indicate a child's level of anxiety or discomfort. In most children, these symptoms will ease with reassurance and time. However, some children may be at risk for more intense reactions. Children who have had a past traumatic experience or personal loss, suffer from depression or other mental illness, or with special needs may be at greater risk for severe reactions than others. Seek the help of mental health professional if you are at all concerned.
Limit television viewing of these events. Be aware if the television is on in common areas. Developmentally inappropriate information can cause anxiety or confusion, particularly in young children. Adults also need to be mindful of the content of conversations that they have with each other in front of children, even teenagers, and limit their exposure to vengeful, hateful, and angry comments that might be misunderstood.
Maintain a normal routine. Keeping to a regular schedule can be reassuring and promote physical health. Ensure that children get plenty of sleep, regular meals, and exercise. Encourage them to keep up with their schoolwork and extracurricular activities but don't push them if they seem overwhelmed.