Think Small would like to acknowledge the cumulative impact of school violence compounded by the Robb Elementary School shooting and provide resources for caregivers and parents of young children that can support conversations with young children, promote self-care and healing for caregivers, and inspire real actions to promote change.
The shooting at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, on May 24 is the 27th school shooting in 2022 (School Shootings This Year: How Many and Where (edweek.org)). Since the beginning of this year, 24 children and 3 adults have been killed and 56 people have been injured in these events.
In times of national trauma, parents, caregivers, and the broader early childhood community can feel at a loss, unsure how to process these events. Here in Minnesota, we deeply empathize with those affected by the shooting. These children in Uvalde are our children. These families are our families. Our hearts break for their unimaginable loss. We are angry that these tragedies continue unabated. This time, we weren’t the ones to answer the life-altering phone call, nor did we wait into the early morning hours to find out if our child had been taken from us. But we each carry a dread that this will happen in our own community. The senseless horror of gun violence perpetrated on children by other children should never happen. We know this to be true and at the same time know in our sinking hearts that this shooting will not be the last.
All of this can leave us feeling helpless.
As caregivers, parents, and educators, we must get on with the moment-by-moment work of loving, nurturing, and protecting the children in our arms. We begin by working through our own grief and trauma and by guiding our children through processing their trauma and fears. We can even start to look for tangible ways to show up for change.
“Our hearts go out to the families and all those affected by this tragic event. Everywhere that children gather or visit should be a safe place without fear of gun violence. Especially now more than ever, we need to be a voice for our children working together to protect schools and to prevent all forms of violence – including gun violence – in our schools.” – Barbara Yates, President and CEO of Think Small
While of course we want to shield our children from these frightening scenes, the reality is that they will likely encounter them through media coverage. They will have real fears that are best processed with a trusted adult. They need to know they are safe. These conversations can be difficult, so we have collected several resources to help you support your children through these hard times.
This tip sheet from The National Child Traumatic Stress Institute offers a guide on how to start conversations while this blog post from ChildTrends provides additional suggestions for deciding how much detail is developmentally appropriate based on the age of the child and discusses other steps you can take to support coping and healing for your family.
- Coping with Violence | NAEYC
- Effects of School Shootings | Center for Violence Prevention (chop.edu)
- Supporting Families: Young Children and Gun Violence • ZERO TO THREE
- How to Talk to Kids About School Shootings | Child Mind Institute
- Resources in Response to the Robb Elementary School Shooting | Brighton Center (brightonsa.org)
Resources for processing your own trauma:
- Coping in the Aftermath of a Shooting (counseling.org)
- 7 Tools for Managing Traumatic Stress | NAMI: National Alliance on Mental Illness
- Dealing With Trauma | NIH News in Health
Resources for supporting Uvalde and advocating to end school shootings:
- How to help Uvalde families after the Texas school shooting : NPR
- Local Organizations With Mental Health Expertise | MentalHealth.gov
- Sandy Hook Promise — Preventing Gun Violence Before it Happens
- School shootings: What we know about them, and what we can do to prevent them (brookings.edu)
- Home | March For Our Lives Minnesota (marchforourlivesmn.wixsite.com)