It is a tragic and somber reality that school shootings will continue to happen. Every year there are multiple shootings across the United States; we average 18 school shootings per year. This means that those in ministry need to be prepared to help families respond in the aftermath of these events.
This article serves as the “table of contents” for a brief series on this subject. It aims to help church leaders care for the students who were not physically harmed and their parents. Youth and their parents often bring questions to their pastors and student ministry staff. We need to be prepared to respond in ways that are helpful.Youth and their parents often bring questions to their pastors and student ministry staff. We need to be prepared to respond in ways that are helpful. Click To Tweet
We will explore this subject in four articles.
This article outlines simple (i.e., non-elaborate) responses from that are most helpful for students in the immediate aftermath of a traumatic event. We often mistakenly think the sophistication of our response needs to match the magnitude of the event. The most beneficial things that parents can do are not as complicated as we might fear they might be.
After a traumatic event, students are understandably overwhelmed. As parents, teachers, and student leaders, we feel like we must do something to help. We should. But our instinct to help can lead us to engage in ways that are more about assuaging our own sense of duty than being helpful to the student.
This is not a print-and-give letter. It is a read-and-translate letter. As you read it, ask yourself two questions: (a) How would I say these things? and (b) How would my child best receive these things? Most of us have not had these types of conversations before, so it is helpful to have a sample to help us prepare for what is beneficial to say.
The initial objective after a traumatic experience is to re-establish an environment of safety and provide a stable context to process this experience. But it is important to also ask, “How would I know if more care is needed?” This fourth article looks at the changes in your student that would indicate counseling would be beneficial and how to communicate with your student about the benefits counseling could provide.