It is a sad day in America when there are people telling teachers what to say about terrorists.
Threats from alleged terrorists, some more widely publicized than others, have now been sent to school districts in San Francisco, Long Beach, Miami, Fort Lauderdale, Dallas, Houston, New York and Los Angeles, as of last week. No matter that each threat has been investigated and found to be not credible. Whether targeted or not, school districts are being asked to respond to what Jeff Godown, chief of the Oakland School Police Department, earlier this week called “an air of anxiety in this country.”
The advice schools are receiving, experts say, starts with this: Keep the adults calm.
Public anxiety about terrorist threats has increased in the aftermath of attacks in Paris and San Bernardino, according toopinion polls, and concern about keeping children safe at school has been heightened for years because of school shootings. Some schools already struggle to maintain normalcy while living in an atmosphere of fear and uncertainty – they are in communities with high rates of violence, drug abuse or student suicides. All schools affected by trauma benefit from similar coping strategies – including the need to stay calm and stay connected, according to the Trauma and Learning Policy Initiative, a Massachusetts-based organization that works to create “trauma sensitive” schools.
Older students may have heard rumors and false information, which adults need to correct. Avoid the use of the words “bomb” or “terror” – this only exacerbates fear and stress on families, teachers and students, said Wolf-Prusan.
According to guidance sent by Los Angeles Unified to principals, teachers and parents, teachers are encouraged to use existing social support structures, such as morning meetings, restorative justice circles and advisory groups, to give students a chance to talk.
“What makes you feel safe in school?” is a question teachers could ask.
The success of these conversations, said Brock from Sacramento State, depends in large part on whether students feel that an adult on campus – a teacher, principal, custodian, secretary, coach or other staff member – knows them, cares about them and will look out for them in an emergency.
Read more: Huffington Post