6 Resources for Talking About Traumatic Events with Young People

When we read headlines like: "At least 12 dead, 59 injured in Colorado theater shooting" we can be overwhelmed with grief, rage, despair, fear, and hopelessness. But as adults we have at least some shred of coping mechanisms and an ability to understand the deeper issues of such a tragedy.

How do such horrific events affect our young people? How do they view themselves, the world, and their future after such violence and destruction? How can we help them learn to cope and to gain a deeper understanding (as appropriate) of the issues involved? Here are 6 resources that can help educators and parents.

  1. The New York Times' Learning Network offers several suggestions for topics for teachers to explore with their students, from analyzing news coverage, to discussing how leaders should respond, to investigating gun control issues, to connecting the tragedy with other, similar events.
  2. The Boston Globe highlights 6 ways to talk to kids about the movie theater shootings.
  3. We can also focus on the stories of heroes during tragic times; in the case of the Colorado shootings, we can share the story of the young woman who refused to leave her wounded best friend's side, even though it put her in danger.
  4. The New York Times also posted an article earlier in the year outlining 10 ways to talk to students about sensitive issues in the news.
  5. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration has a guide for parents and educators in talking to young people after traumatic events; it includes tips by age group.
  6. Recently we shared 8 tips for discussing challenging global issues, which can help frame how you handle discussing the Colorado shootings or other traumatic events with your children or students.
~ Marsha

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