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When Tragic Things Happen

By Liz Paige, Director of Ethics & Community, and Sarah Davies, School Psychologist

 

Our hearts break for and our thoughts go out to those who were injured and the families of those killed by violence fueled by hatred over the past week. We recognize that these events reverberate throughout communities, who are too often the targets of discrimination and violence, and uniquely extend to those who share a common identity. The fact that such violence occurs so frequently underscores the importance of living our shared McGillis values, our work here, and our individual and collective responsibility to take action to repair the world.

 

Often children turn to the adults in their lives to help them to make sense of these world events. But more often, children overhear our discussions of these events and do not know how to ask or if it is okay to be part of the conversation. Talking about these events with your child "will let them know you care and will allow them to express their feelings, understand what happened, reflect on the injustice that’s taken place, and do something about it if they want to." (ADL Source)

 

A good place to start is by reassuring your child that you are here to listen to them and to answer their questions. You can then further strengthen your child's understanding of our world by together exploring the root causes of the prejudice and hatred that led to the violence. The McGillis library has books for students in grades K-8 that discuss these issues that will serve as excellent starting places for learning. Assisting your child to do something positive in response to the tragedy will reinforce your family's values, our community's shared purpose, and allow your child to be a change agent and ally versus feeling that they are merely a bystander.

 

We recognize that not all children and families share the same sense of safety in our society.  Reminding children that they are loved and they are part of a school community that respects them for who they are, is a place where they belong, and has worked intentionally to ensure their safety can give them (and you) a measure of reassurance.

 

We have added a link on the Values and Traditions page in the All-School Family Canvas site with valuable resources that will assist you in navigating these challenging and critical conversations with your child. Please know our divisional directors Melinda Kaufman, Tim Campbell and Mary Kimball, Head of School Jim Brewer, as well as the two of us are always resources for you.