Talking With Students about Disturbing News

Talking with Students About Disturbing News
By:
Cross Country Education
Posted:
September 23, 2022 02:34 AM (GMT-05:00)
Categories:
Educator Resources

Our 3 Favorite Resources for School Psychologists and Other Educational Professionals

Unfortunately, school psychologists, counselors, social workers and teachers face the tough task of discussing disturbing news with students. The good news is there are plenty of resources to help.

Create a School Plan for Handling Disturbing News

Educational professionals are uniquely positioned to talk with kids about distressing news, allowing them to process their feelings and feel safer at school and beyond.

However, it’s important to be prepared with a plan. A comprehensive plan for dealing with difficult news can help ensure all members of the school community are ready for any situation.

For example, adults should consider different types of distressing news students may encounter:

  • School shootings
  • Violence around race, religion, sexuality, nationality, etc.
  • Natural disasters
  • Political tension or unrest
  • Terrorism and war
  • Pandemic-related events including rising disease and death counts, school lockdowns, etc.
  • Loss of family members, teachers, friends or other community members
  • Personal issues and relationship problems
  • Negative social media trends and online threats

Schools should tailor their policies on dealing with distressing news for the age level of their students. Planning should be flexible and ongoing and involve the input of all stakeholders. School psychologists, social workers and counselors can lead the charge, organizing meetings and teams to generate and agree on procedures.

The following resources may prove helpful in developing a school plan on how to talk about disturbing news with kids.

Our 3 Favorite Resources on How to Talk with Students About Disturbing News

We hope these resources on how to talk with kids about bad news are a useful addition to your toolkit. Don’t forget to bookmark the page so you can revisit when needed! Thanks for all you do to help keep your students and the school community safe and healthy!

  1. Talking with Students About Shocking or Disturbing News from CommonSense.org – Common Sense is a “leading nonprofit organization dedicated to helping all kids thrive in a world of media and technology.” They are the experts in providing reviews and ratings on the suitability of TV shows and games for children. This resource features guidance on how to talk with students according to their grade level. Tips include staying calm, being aware of your own reactions, considering the diversity of backgrounds of students, listening, and encouraging positive action. The site also features news literacy lesson materials, resources on digital citizenship, and links to other helpful resources.
  2. Learning Materials and Resources from SAMHSA – The U.S. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration has a wealth of resources to help. These materials are geared toward parents and caregivers, military families, school professionals, media and more. Resources include guides on talking with kids about traumatic events, facts for caregivers on complex trauma, understanding childhood stress and childhood traumatic grief, and psychological first aid.
  3. How to Talk to Children About Difficult News from the APA – The American Psychological Association’s resource on talking about distressing news advises adults to guide the conversation, find out what children already know, share their own feelings, tell the truth, and reassure children. Additionally, the page has links to an article on building resilience, an illustrated books for children who have witnessed violence or trauma, and a disaster distress hotline.

We hope these resources on how to talk with kids about bad news are a useful addition to your toolkit. Don’t forget to bookmark the page so you can revisit when needed! Thanks for all you do to help keep your students and the school community safe and healthy!

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