Temecula Superintendent Offers Tips on How to Cope with Sandy Hook

Superintendent Timothy Ritter says that parents should "reassure children that they are safe."

The following is a letter from Superintendent Timothy Ritter.

Dear TVUSD Parents and Guardians:

We are all saddened by the horrific events that took place in Connecticut this morning. It is understandable that if children become aware of the news, they may become frightened and worry about their own safety. We will continue to do all we can to maintain safe schools for all children in our community, but at a time like this many of you may want to reassure your child. We know it is not easy talking to children about tragic events.

We offer the following suggestions to help you assist your children in coping with any potential trauma resulting from the events of this tragedy:

• Reassure children that they are safe. Explain to them that there are good, competent people in charge who are working to keep us all safe.

• Limit exposure to the media. Avoid “staying glued” to the television. Instead, watch for a brief time and then talk about what you are seeing.

• Point out good deeds that have come out of this tragedy. Focus on stories of heroism and generosity to help children fortify their belief in humanity.

• Explain that feeling upset is normal. Communicate to your children that being sad or crying about these events is OK.

• Talk about the tragedy with children old enough to understand recent events. Tell your children the truth, but make sure that your explanations are age-appropriate. Younger children will need brief information (only if they are aware of the tragedy and are asking questions) combined with reassurances of safety and love. Older children will be able to ask more involved questions and may need more detailed reassurances about why they are safe. Give children the answers to their questions and try to avoid speculation. Be a good listener and ask your children why they are asking the questions they are asking, to get to the root of their anxiety.

• Try to keep your routine. This fosters feelings of safety and stability.

• Encourage young children to express their feelings through art. This may help them express thoughts they are unable to articulate.

• Stay calm. Children take cues from your behavior. It is ok to show that you are upset, but avoid expressing strong feelings of anger, fear, or hopelessness.

• Try to spend more time with your children. Tell them that you love them and engage them with quiet, calming activities.

• You will need to take care of your own needs in order to stay calm and strong for your children. Seek out community resources to find the support you need.

• Don’t punish children for reverting to behaviors from an earlier age, e.g., bed-wetting. Instead, encourage them to verbalize the feelings behind their actions. These behaviors will subside over time.

• Familiarize yourself with signs of trauma and monitor your child’s behavior in the upcoming weeks.

• Stay in touch with teachers and caregivers to ask about your child’s behavior.

This list is meant only as suggestions should you feel the need to discuss today’s tragic events with your child. These tips have been compiled using information from the Web sites of the following organizations:

  • The American Counseling Association
  • The National Association of School Psychologists
  • The Colorado Organization for Victim Assistance (COVA)

More age-specific strategies for talking with your children can be found at: www.nasponline.org/resources/handouts/talkingviolence.pdf

Our hearts go out to all those affected by this tragedy.


Timothy Ritter

Temecula Valley Unified School District

rodger cambell December 19, 2012 at 03:28 PM
...or armed teacher misses, even a quick training font make them a "one shot-one kill" weapon. It has and is proven that more kids would die by armed teachers and take there minds off teaching. Hoe about one or two armed guards dressed as janitors with a predictive camera in each room on each campus or? This would be less expensive than training and arming a bunch of teachers and substitutes... @ letsbfair: I think that maybe u could have vested this coward, but a bunch if elementary school teachers ?
rodger cambell December 19, 2012 at 04:06 PM
@GC: I agree: Deal with the kids directly but on their individual developmental level. Take into account that most adults, need to drink the coolaid. It's ok for Kids to know that they r safe for the most part. ...sadly, causes of death of our 5-9 year old children by preventable causes include: cars/transportation at 446/year, drowning at 119/year, fire/burns at 88/year and suffocation st 26... Also, as our children grow older, and are mistreated, typically from birth, suicide, from about age 10, quickly becomes the third leading cause of death.
rodger cambell December 19, 2012 at 04:41 PM
...over "1,500" children (ages 0-9) die each YEAR from Drowning and/or Suffocation. That's "1,500" a yr, 125 kids dead every month, 29 kids dead every week and 4 kids dead every day...
rodger cambell December 19, 2012 at 05:11 PM
...my intentions are in no way directed at taking away the seriousness of the recent shootings, but only to bring a little of the spotlight to these families too and a possible solution to all these tragic deaths of our children. My hart prayers are with the loved ones of all these children and the courageous staff that sacrificed their lives to help protect these children from the worst kind of #&&##(*^# here on our earth. They are true heroes in every since of the word. God bless you.
Michael December 21, 2012 at 04:27 AM
Am I the only one who realizes that you shouldn't arm teachers with guns. Lets see . #1 thing on the news is that a teacher raped a student. Arm teachers with guns the new #1 thing on the news will be TEACHER WHO WAS A SECRET CRIMINAL WITH NO CRIMINAL RECORDS USES GUN, THEY WERE ARMED WITH TO KILL BAD GUYS, TO KILL MIDDLE SCHOOL CLASS. Statement in article: we should have listened when Michael from the Patch warned us about this. Yeah, DON'T GIVE TEACHERS GUNS


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