S.A.P. Safety in Schools
Page Updated: August 14, 2009
Feeling Secure About Schools
Following a school shooting, parents and/or children may have fears about the safety of their local schools. Despite a high-profile event such as the incident at Virginia Tech, school shootings are extremely rare events that can be compared to plane crashes--they almost never happen, but when they do, they receive tremendous media coverage. Nonetheless, flying remains the safest form of transportation. Similarly, school remains the safest place for children.
Talking To Children About School Safety
How this issue is handled depends on the age and developmental level of the child. Young children should not be exposed to television coverage of traumatic events. This exposure can be traumatic. Similarly, if children are not aware of an event, it is not necessary to tell them. Children do not need to be aware of all the violence in the world; they need to feel safe and secure. If children are aware of a school shooting and have questions or concerns, these should be responded to honestly, but without overwhelming them with more information than they need to know or can comprehend. Children can be reassured that the person who committed the act is no longer alive and cannot hurt anyone. They can be told that schools are safe places and that everyone is working to make sure that children are safe. Besides what you actually say to children, however, it is important to maintain a nurturing, supportive presence. If they have concerns, help them to express what's on their minds. Listen to their fears, anxieties, or questions. Maintaining communication with them in a time of crisis is essential.
Signs Of Stress In Children
If you notice changes in your children following a school shooting, this could be a sign that the children may need professional assistance. Such changes could include signs of depression or anxiety, such as complaints of not feeling well; fear of going to school; trouble sleeping; nightmares; crying more than usual; changes in eating habits; a lack of interest in their normal activities; or withdrawing from social interaction with family or friends.
PPA's mission is to advance psychology in Pennsylvania as a means of promoting human welfare through activities that:
  • Educate and support the professional development of our members
  • Educate the public through disseminating and applying psychological knowledge
  • Maintain and build organizational strength
  • Advocate vigorously for public access to psychological services