Resources for Dealing with School-Related Traumas

by Dr. Barbara Lowe

Traumas (e.g., school shootings) that occur in our nation’s schools can deeply impact both parents and their children. These events can cut away our sense of safety, leaving us with an acute sense of vulnerability and anxiety. These feelings can be powerful and disruptive, leaving parents searching for ways to provide security for their children. At GPSS, we understand how disruptive these events can be. Below are some tips and resources that might help parents who are looking to restore a sense of stability after a trauma. In addition, our clinicians are here to help. Feel free to call us and make an appointment for individual or family therapy.


Below are some tips for parents and caregivers that might be helpful after a school trauma. For more information, feel free to contact our staff.

1. Remember that how parents and caregivers react to the situation in front of children will shape children’s sense of vulnerability and safety.

2. Be a good listener and observer of your child’s behavior.

3. Find out what your child already knows before sharing about the event.

4. Limit your child’s exposure to media coverage of the event.

5. Return to your normal schedule and routine as quickly as possible, yet allow for some flexibility as needed.

6. Spend time together as a family, engaging in relaxing and calming activities.

7. Remember that your children can be very resilient, and help your children to remember their own strengths.

8. Allow your children to talk and validate their feelings.

9. Be appropriately optimistic, and help your children to refrain from dwelling on worst possibilities.

10. Remind yourself and your children that these types of events are very rare and re-affirm school as a safe place (e.g., “school is safe because….”).

11. Provide brief, factual, developmentally appropriate descriptions of the events.

12. Focus on empathy and the resilience of human beings.

13. Communicate with your children’s educators in regard to what your child is experiencing.

14. Be aware of your own feelings and make sure you are taking care of your own mental and physical health.

15.Do something to help others as a family (e.g., collect food for hungry children).

16. Reassure yourself by requesting and reviewing your school’s safe school policies and procedures.

17.If symptoms persist or are intense or disturbing, get help from a professional right away (psychologist, counselor, etc.) If there is a safety concern, call 911 right away.


Below are some web resources that might be helpful after a school trauma. For more information, feel free to contact our staff.

National Association of School Psychologists (NASP) School Safety and Crisis Resources

North Carolina Department of Education: School Safety

Responding to Tragedy: AN Annotated List of Websites

US Department of Education; Office of Sate and Healthy Students; Emergency Planning

National Education Association Health Information Network (NEA HIN) School Crisis Guide

Child Mind Institute: Caring for Kids after a School Shooting

The National Child Traumatic Stress Network