Responding to Parkland


STEM K-8 Families,

It’s been a tough 24 hours for schools and families.  My thoughts and prayers go out to the families of Parkland.  The horror of what happened in Florida (and other school shootings) has reverberated in different ways for students staff and families.  It is a struggle for adults and children alike to try to comprehend why and how such a senseless and shocking incident can occur. Excessive and repeated media viewing can create increased anxiety and therefore limiting ongoing exposure is recommended. Talking about the incident can be a healthy way for families to process their feelings and reactions to an event of this nature.

How to help children cope:

  • Listen to and accept children’s feelings.
  • Give honest, simple, brief answers to their questions.
  • Make sure they understand your answers and the meaning you intend.
  • Use words or phrases that won’t confuse a child or make the world more frightening.
  • Create opportunities for children to talk with each other about what happened and how they are feeling.
  • Give your child an honest explanation. If you are feeling so upset you don’t want to talk about what happened, you may want to take “time out” and ask a trusted family friend to help.
  • If children keep asking the same question over and over again it is because they are trying to understand; trying to make sense out of the disruption and confusion in their world. Younger children will not understand that death is permanent, so their repeated inquiries are because they expect everything to return to normal.
  • Even if you feel the world is an unsafe place, you can reassure your child by saying, “The event is over. Now we’ll do everything possible to stay safe, and together we can help get things back to normal.”

I’ve also attached to the bottom of this letter Talking to Children About Violence: Tips for Parents and Teachers from the American Association of School Psychologists.

The well-being and safety of your children is STEM’s top concern.  We have procedures and plans in place to support school safety.  All visitors must check in through the office, and glass doors channel visitors that way.  We conduct at least one safety-related drill each month, and have a safety plan that outlines procedures for prevention, mitigation, response and recovery in the event of a crisis. We have practiced lock down and shelter in place drills with students, and reviewed those procedures today.

We feel deep sorrow for those who lost loved ones because of the tragedy Parkland yesterday. No words can explain the horror or senselessness of this deed. I understand this news brings anguish to parents and individuals around the world. It is a tragic day and our thoughts and prayers go out to all of those affected by violence.


Ben Ostrom

STEM K-8 Principal

Tips for Talking to Children About Violence




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