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STUDENTS WHO HAD A LOVED ONE DIE IN THE EARTHQUAKE
About the National Child Traumatic Stress Network Established by Congress in 2000, the National Child Traumatic Stress Network (NCTSN) is a unique collaboration of academic and community-based service centers whose mission is to raise the standard of care and increase access to services for traumatized children and their families across the United States. Combining knowledge of child development, expertise in the full range of child traumatic experiences, and attention to cultural perspectives, the NCTSN serves as a national resource for developing and disseminating evidence-based interventions, trauma-informed services, and public and professional education.
GUIDANCE FOR SCHOOL PERSONNEL: STUDENTS WHO HAD A LOVED ONE DIE IN THE EARTHQUAKE
Introduction to trauma The earthquake was a terrifying disaster for adults, children, families, and communities. The extreme life threat, destruction, injury, and loss of life made this experience especially traumatic. While struggling for their own survival, many saw friends, family, co-workers, and neighbors seriously injured or die. During such an event, children and adults often feel intense fear, helplessness, and horror. These feelings can keep coming back for a long time afterwards. When a trauma causes the death of a loved one, children and adolescents may experience traumatic grief, where grieving and mourning are made more difficult, and it becomes hard for them to remember the person they lost without also thinking or picturing how the person died. Reactions to the trauma and loss are likely to show up in children’s behavior at school, and teachers can play an important role in the recovery of their students. By better understanding students’ reactions, teachers can be prepared to provide appropriate support within the school setting. By being informed about trauma, teachers and staff will be better able to assist students with current school functioning and prevent future difficulties. How do children and teens react to trauma and loss? Children and teens react to trauma and loss in different ways. Their disaster experience, level of understanding, ability to handle difficult emotions, and ways of coping will differ according to the age of the child, temperament, and other life experiences or emotional problems. Caregivers, family, peers, school, and community all contribute to how children and adolescents react and recover. Many children recover after a brief period of difficulty. Others may continue to have problems, while some become worse over time. A traumatic experience and the death of someone important may affect children’s sense of safety, trust in the ability of others to provide protection, reliance on the security of loving relationships, emerging confidence in self-care— including handling danger, and sense of life as fair and controllable. Children’s understanding of death changes as they develop and is influenced by family, religious, and cultural values, such as the following: • • • Pre-school children may not understand that a death is permanent, and expect the person to return. School-age children may understand the physical reality of death, but—in longing for the return of a lost loved one—may experience feelings of their presence. Adolescents may keep acting “young” and in need of a deceased parent, or minimize the loss and try to “grow up too fast.”
When there is no physical confirmation of the death, as occurred after the earthquake where so many bodies were not soon recovered, the above reactions can be much more intense and longlasting.
Guidance for School Personnel: Students Who Had a Loved One Die in the Earthquake The National Child Traumatic Stress Network www.NCTSN.org 1
A loss can impact a young person in different ways at different stages in his/her life. A toddler whose caregiver died will be affected by the change of caregiver and disruption to daily routine. A school-age child loses not only a caregiver, but also continuing emotional support and daily help with schoolwork and outside activities. A teenager, who was becoming independent when a caregiver died, may be torn between a sense of responsibility to surviving family members and the wish for greater independence. When a loved one has died in a way that has been traumatic, a child or teen is at risk for developing childhood traumatic grief, in which common reactions may interfere with a child’s ability to have positive memories and engage in activities that would be helpful for adjusting to life without the person. There are certain general reactions and responses that are common following a disaster such as an earthquake. It is not unusual for children and teens who suffer a traumatic loss to have difficulties afterwards in the following areas: • Thoughts o confusion o problems with concentration, memory, attention o thinking that they should have done something to prevent the death o thinking that someone else close to them may die • Feelings o fear, anxiety, or worry about one’s own safety or the safety of others o helplessness, lack of control o sadness, depression, hopelessness, loneliness o anger, irritability o guilt, shame, insecurity o being overwhelmed • Physical reactions o fatigue o stomachache, headache o rapid heart beat, shakiness o other physical complaints • Behaviors o fighting, having tantrums o clinging, refusing to separate or be alone o disinterest in usual activities o poor hygiene or self care o avoiding or withdrawing from others or activities o changing pattern of, or having problems with eating and sleeping o poor school performance o acting out, engaging in risky behavior o other unusual change in behavior
Guidance for School Personnel: Students Who Had a Loved One Die in the Earthquake The National Child Traumatic Stress Network www.NCTSN.org 2
• Reactions to reminders o Trauma reminders: Places, situations, people, sights, smells, or sounds related to the death, including hearing a crash resembling collapsing buildings, hearing screaming, or seeing rubble. o Loss reminders: People, places, objects, situations, thoughts, or memories, such as an empty chair at the dining table or in the classroom. o Change reminders: Situations, people, places, or things that are reminders of how life has changed, such as moving in with relatives or a having a new teacher replace a teacher who died. What is posttraumatic stress disorder? Posttraumatic stress disorder refers to a particular group of reactions that occurs at least one month following a trauma. The three general types of symptoms include: • Re-experiencing: A kind of reliving the event, including having recurrent upsetting thoughts, repeated distressing nightmares, or—in young children—repetitive play about the event. For example, a child may play repeatedly by building a tower out of blocks, knocking it down, then building it back up only to knock it down again. • Hyperarousal: Being hyper alert—on the lookout for danger—while at the same time being nervous, jumpy, agitated, irritable, angry, or having an increased startle reaction. For example, a child may feel her heart racing upon hearing a sound that resembles collapsing buildings or when a floor shakes. • Avoidance/withdrawal: Avoiding thoughts, feelings, or places that remind the child of the trauma, including withdrawing from or becoming disinterested in activities, or becoming emotionally distant. For example, a teen may refuse to participate in a team activity at school after members of the team have died. What is the grieving process? There is no right or wrong way to grieve; nor is there an appropriate length of time to mourn a death. Different children grieve in different ways, and the process changes as a child grows older and faces new experiences. A child, who as a toddler lost a brother, may have new questions about the death as he grows older. A girl, who as a child lost her mother, may have a new sense of longing for her as she becomes a teenager. Over time, it is helpful if children can: • Accept the reality and permanence of the death. • Cope with the painful emotions related to the death, such as sadness, anger, confusion, and guilt. • Adjust to changes in their lives and in their identity that result from the death. • Develop new relationships or deepen existing relationships to help them cope with difficulties and loneliness. • Maintain a continuing healthy attachment to the person through reminiscing, remembering, or creating a memorial. • Make meaning of the death, including understanding the significance of the loss. • Be able to have positive memories and engage in activities that help with adjustment to life without the loved one. • Continue with normal developmental tasks and activities.
Guidance for School Personnel: Students Who Had a Loved One Die in the Earthquake The National Child Traumatic Stress Network www.NCTSN.org 3
What are the signs a child or teen is having difficulty with childhood traumatic grief? When a child is struggling with childhood traumatic grief, even happy thoughts about the person who died may lead to upsetting memories. When traumatic or loss reminders occur, the child may repeatedly focus on the distressing aspects of the death and not proceed through the normal grief process. The grieving process can be further complicated if the child’s own life was in danger. A young person having difficulty with the grief process may: • Have intrusive memories about the death, which occur unexpectedly or appear as nightmares. • Feel guilty about how the person died. • Avoid unpleasant thoughts, feelings, and reminders, by skipping school, staying away from the sites of collapsed buildings, or refusing to play a game he had enjoyed with a deceased parent. • Withdraw emotionally—appearing numb or having no feelings—as a way to manage upsetting feelings. There can be long lasting effects when a child’s post-trauma/loss reactions are not addressed. An adolescent may develop serious problems with depression, abuse alcohol or drugs, or have other mental health difficulties later in life. When grief issues continue for months, or become intense or frequent enough to interfere with a young person’s ability to go to school, enjoy friends, participate in activities, and engage in typical child behavior, caregivers should consult a mental health professional. Who is at risk for difficulty? With nurturing support over weeks and months, many children and teens will find their fears, sadness, and distress decreasing, and they will gradually engage in more typical, age-appropriate activities. Others, however, may continue to suffer. Children more at risk for having problems and requiring extra attention are those who have the following: • Previous traumas or deaths • • • • Prior physical, emotional, or learning problems Caregivers who have difficulty adjusting Limited or less support from friends, family, and other adults Additional stresses related to changes and loss of home or school
What issues are particular to the school setting? The students, as well as the entire school community, are still adjusting to the devastation and death caused by the earthquake. Many school personnel in the affected areas have been displaced and/or have been injured themselves. Many are grieving for their lost family members, fellow teachers and staff, or students who died or had to move elsewhere. Issues for schools include: • School community o The school building may have been damaged and will be a reminder of events and a trigger for unpleasant reactions. o The composition of school personnel may have changed, leaving adults and students feeling upset.
Guidance for School Personnel: Students Who Had a Loved One Die in the Earthquake The National Child Traumatic Stress Network www.NCTSN.org 4
o o o
Peers who have been lost or relocated will no longer be available for support and new, relocated students will change the classroom composition. Group or social activities may have changed or ended. The school community may need to establish new methods and new support systems to return to its former level of functioning.
• School personnel o Staff may be struggling with their own reactions and symptoms of trauma and grief; they may not work as effectively as they did or may be less available to students than they were before. o Staff may feel burdened by the added demands of a changed classroom and students experiencing a range of responses. o Teachers may find that certain subjects they have taught, on topics related to rocks or earth, may now stir up distressing or painful memories and reactions. • Students o During the school day, students may experience reminders, express grief-related reactions, or display other symptoms. It is important to remember that these responses may be associated with the students’ experiences of the earthquake, so that problems are identified and handled correctly. A tired student may not be getting enough sleep because she is having nightmares. A student who appears to be daydreaming may be having distressing thoughts. A student avoiding participation in an after school club may be upset that a new coach has replaced one who died. An angry student may be mourning a classmate. A student with incomplete homework may be spending all his extra time rebuilding his home. o Teachers and staff may observe specific symptoms and reactions that suggest difficulty. They might see students engaging in repetitive play or notice that art projects have themes or images related to the earthquake or to death. Some students may be preoccupied with talking about or asking questions about details of the event. How can school personnel help a student? School personnel play a very important role in observing students, understanding how to create a supportive school environment, and identifying when a student needs to be referred for additional help. Here are some suggestions for educators: • Be aware of the common reactions described above. • Remember that not all children will develop childhood traumatic grief; for those who do have difficulty, expect to see a variety of reactions. • If you have concerns about a student, share important and appropriate information with other staff about him or her. • Maintain normal school routines and a predictable schedule as much as possible. Create a supportive environment, taking time to prepare students for changes. • Provide an atmosphere of safety, normalcy, and fun. It is helpful to encourage participation in social and extracurricular activities. • Try to provide a place in school with a nurse or counselor, where students can go for help and find someone to talk with.
Guidance for School Personnel: Students Who Had a Loved One Die in the Earthquake The National Child Traumatic Stress Network www.NCTSN.org 5
• Listen carefully to a student’s concerns. Try to be open and calm. Do not force students to talk about their fears or thoughts; rather, let them know you are available if they wish to share what’s on their mind. • Answer students’ questions honestly, providing clear information tailored to their age. Be prepared for some students to request information repeatedly. It is not harmful for staff to admit that they don’t know an answer. • Be flexible. Modify assignments and testing to help students who are having more difficulty. • Adjust presentation of topics when necessary; for example, lessons in science might include accurate information about cyclones. • Use teaching strategies that promote concentration, retention, and recall to increase control and performance. It may be helpful to outline the content of presentations before beginning, break new or complicated information into small segments, or provide handouts of material being discussed. • Monitor students’ performance for signs that a student is having problems or falling behind. • Understand that anger or regressive behavior may be part of the child’s or teen’s reaction to a traumatic death. Help the student feel safe and, if necessary, seek additional help. • Help students be sensitive to each other’s distress and support each other in positive ways. For example, encourage students to include each other in play, monitor teasing, educate students about peers’ need for quiet time, pair students for activities so that all students are included. • Be alert to students who are feeling overly responsible; reassure students they are not to blame for the event or death. • Help students develop and use their own coping skills, such as talking to a trusted adult or enjoying pleasant activities like playing with friends, reading for pleasure, singing, dancing, or doing art. • For those who are able or interested, involve students in school or community activities that help others. • Be a role model, by dealing appropriately with your own upset feelings. • Build a caring, supportive relationship with students and be available to assist families with their concerns. • Monitor and attend to your own reactions. Be aware of personal distress that might make it more difficult to work with students. Network with colleagues, seek out support of family or friends, and keep yourself in good health. • Refer students needing additional help—those having significant problems with school work, showing signs of depression or acting out behaviors, or having continued intense upsetting reactions—to school professionals and counselors.
Guidance for School Personnel: Students Who Had a Loved One Die in the Earthquake The National Child Traumatic Stress Network www.NCTSN.org 6
Coping With Disasters/Traumatic World Events
Emotional reactions to traumatic world events are normal. It is not uncommon to experience distress following an event, even when you are not directly affected. Most people manage with the support of family, friends and others in their communities. Others may feel overwhelmed and unable to cope and need additional help and support. Disasters can cause us to re-experience feelings and memories related to previous disasters, such as the events of 9/11. In addition, other grief and loss experiences may resurface. The emotional impact that a disaster has varies from person to person. Reactions to disasters are impacted by individual beliefs, customs and cultural traditions. While those directly affected are more likely to need additional mental health support, it is not uncommon for individuals living thousands of miles away to experience stress and anxiety.
Five important things that you need to know are:
• • • • •
What are normal reactions to a disaster? What can I do to cope better? How can I help my children? How do I know when to ask for help? Where can I get help if I need it?
The following are predictable reactions to traumatic events and are considered normal short-term responses to an overwhelmingly stressful event.
• • • • • •
A sense of hopelessness about the future. Feeling helpless, frustrated, angry and irritable. Feeling anxious and afraid. Having difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep. Having trouble concentrating. Experiencing distressing dreams or memories of this disaster or previous events.
If you feel that your reactions are lasting too long, getting worse instead of better or interfering with your ability to function, you may want to consider seeking professional support.
Talk about your feelings and thoughts with family, friends and others in your community when you are ready. This may reduce their intensity and help you feel less uncomfortable. You may also find that your loved ones are experiencing similar feelings and you are not alone.
Support and comfort one another in ways you find helpful.
Pay close attention to your physical health - keep medical appointments, get enough rest and exercise, eat nutritious meals, practice deep breathing, engage in fun and enjoyable activities, be gentle with yourself and take time to appreciate the joy and beauty in your life.
You may want to consider a donation to a relief organization as a way of contributing to the recovery effort. Information about how to donate to relief organizations can be found by clicking on the link below.
Avoid too much sugar, caffeine, alcohol and other substances - including overmedicating with prescription and over the counter drugs.
• • • •
Reassure your children concerning their safety. Help them to understand how they are protected. Answer their questions as honestly as you can. Remember that children interpret things differently than adults do. They may need help to put things into perspective. Avoid overexposure to the disaster by limiting the amount of television your children watch. Click on the link below for more information about how to help your children cope. http://www.aacap.org/publications/factsfam/disaster.htm
When To Ask For Help
The time to ask for help varies from person to person. You may want to consider requesting professional support if:
• • • • • • •
Your normal sleeping pattern changes significantly. You feel that you can't go on. You have trouble concentrating and cannot do your usual tasks. Your relationships with friends, family and co-workers are significantly impacted. You are unable to manage everyday activities like you used to. You are relying on alcohol or drugs to cope. You are feeling very distressed, irritable, or agitated much of the time.
For children, withdrawal, aggressive behavior, problems at school, sleep disturbance or difficulty separating from caregivers may indicate the need for professional support.
Where To Get Help
If you are concerned about yourself or someone you care about, you can find help by calling 311 or the numbers listed below. The service is confidential and available in several languages.
• • • •
1-800-LifeNet (1-800-543-3638) (English) 1-877-Ayudese 1-877-298-3373 (Spanish) 1-877-990-8585 (Asian LifeNet) 1-212-982-5284 (TTY)
For other languages call 1-800-LifeNet and ask for a translator.
Discussions with Children About the Disaster in Japan The disaster in Japan is of incomprehensible proportions, and particularly because of the multi-dimensional unfolding of, not one disaster, but three. As expected, it is generating intense media coverage. Immediately, graphic and disturbing pictures and film footage blasts across the television screens in our homes, and our children see people who are in pain, suffering and often without much reason for hope. Particularly for younger children, who haven’t lived long enough to have the social history and context to understand that recovery is even possible on any level, these images can be anything from mildly disturbing to terrifying. In this particular event, the nuclear leaks are grave cause for concern for people in Japan. The current coverage of people in radiation shielding suits passing Geiger counters over children’s bodies is causing alarm for some of our children here in the US and in other countries around the world. Here are some suggestions for teachers and parents for helping children make sense of and cope with this disaster. One: The younger the child, the more their reactions are aligned with how disturbed the adults in their world appear to be. In other words, their reassurance will be, in part, dependent on your own sense of calm. So the first need is for you to be calm, watch your tone of voice, choose your language carefully, watch your body language and non-verbal messages, and also remember that children hear what we’re saying in conversations with others and may or may not be able to make sense of what they hear when you don’t realize they’re listening. Two: Children are much more vulnerable to graphic images and television/video coverage of these events than adults. Although we might want to protect our children by not telling them anything at all and not allowing them to see television coverage, they will hear about it from other children who may know a great deal and may be anxious. Turn off the television! There is no need for them to see graphic coverage. But do talk with them about this! Often our silence about things that are frightening for youth is misinterpreted as a taboo about speaking of it, or worse, they think we are so overwhelmed and frightened that we can’t bear to bring it up. Your discussion could go like this, adjusted for age: Statement of the obvious: Often we have little storms and sometimes we have big storms, but once in a very long time, there is a natural disaster that is very large. It is very, very rare, but this past week the people in Japan had a very large event. There was an earthquake first, and that caused a very large wave in the ocean that flooded their towns. Have you heard about that? (Allow responses/discussion.) Something that is being talked about in the news is that this has made their energy plants go out, so people don’t have electricity. Did you hear about that? (Given that there is now great concern about radiation exposure, this would be the time to try to find out whether your child/children know about this and are worried about it. In some cases, those who are worried have concerns about the radiation being in the air and coming to the US and posing a danger to us. Others may be concerned for the little ones they see in the news who are wearing masks and whose bodies are being screened with Geiger counters. Either way, our children and youth will be better served by our addressing this with them if they are concerned rather than placating their fears with easy answers about how the wind will dilute the nuclear material. Statement of assumption: When things like this happen, lots and lots of people mobilize right away to help the victims. In this case, there is much to be done. (You might describe some of those efforts in a developmentally appropriate way… for young children: how people went right away to find victims who were stuck in the rubble or how people will bring water and food and tents so there is a place to stay for now. For older students, this would be a great time to assign them lessons on researching aide organizations to make this a teachable moment at that level.) When you think about the things you’ve heard, are there parts that are particularly bothersome or frightening for you? If radiation is a topic of conversation: It is unconscionable of us to make promises we can’t keep, so it is not truthful to tell them that this could never happen here. We have many nuclear plants in the MANAGEMENT INSTITUTE © 2011 Cheri Lovre, MS PO Box 331 * Salem, OR 97308 www.cmionline.org * (503) 585-3484 firstname.lastname@example.org
US that have less safety in their design than those in Japan, so don’t make promises about that. Instead, you might bring the focus here: Although they are telling us that some nuclear material has escaped from the plants, they are a long way from here. Let me show you what that means in terms of what will end up in the air here in the US. (Hold some sand in your hand.) If this sand were radio active, it would burn through my hand. But think. If I went outside and threw this handful of sand up into the wind, it would scatter all over the playground, and some would be carried downtown, and some would be up in the wind all the way to England! And one grain of sand that is radioactive wouldn’t have the ability to cause the same kind of danger that a whole handful would. Think about ice. If someone put a teeny tiny chip of ice on your hand, it would melt SO fast. But if someone put your hand into a whole bag of ice chips, your hand would get really cold really fast. Impact to us: When things like this happen, we have a range of reactions. Sometimes we are very sad for them. We wouldn’t be very kind people if we just saw things like this and didn’t care about the people. And some of us might feel frightened, like “what if this happened to us?” There are other kinds of reactions we might have as well. (Generate a list from student brainstorming. Put it on the board.) Putting fear into perspective: Sometimes when we hear about these things, or some of us see about it on television, we become afraid that it might happen to us. Let’s look at how very unusual this kind of event actually is. (You might show graphics for older students that show how many storms we have for each major disaster. For younger children, you might use a gallon jar that is empty, and then slowly pour white sand into the jar, and finally you might drop in one grain of another color – red or black – something visible when a student looks into the jar from the top – just that one grain perched above the whole gallon of sand.) How we can cope and what we can do: (Now, look at each of those reactions students gave you and help them generate ideas about coping and responding.) So let’s look at what we can do when we’re sad about something like this. (Students can think about raising money to give to an organization or younger students could draw pictures of hope and you could send them to the Japanese Embassy. The goal here is to recognize that taking action is a great help in coping with feelings.) Looking at how people recover from these events: Generate discussion on what children or youth recognize about what they have done in the past to cope with difficult times. The bottom line is that we get through difficult times best when we “bundle” together. You could hand one child a pencil. “Can you break this?” and a child may be strong enough to break one pencil. Hand another child two pencils. “Can you break these with your hands?” and maybe… then hand a child a “bundle” of ten pencils. “Hold these in your hands. Can you break these all at once?” This is a great way to illustrate how an event like this can “break a human spirit” when we have to go through it alone, but that we survive these things much better when there are others with us to whom we can cling, with whom we can work, etc. Now begin the reassurances. • When things like this happen, many many international organizations immediately mobilize help. And they’re good at it. Much will happen. Medical help, food, water, and shelter. • The way we get through difficult times is that we do it together. There are lots of people there who will be helping one another, even early on. Friends and neighbors will hug and comfort and help all they can. If you have an example of a difficult challenge that your community or your family faced, relate all the good things that your network and outside groups provided. • Although things like this don’t happen very often, it seems like they do because television tells us every single thing like this. But when we look at how many people die in earthquakes, we realize that it isn’t very many as a whole. So you could do something like putting one dried split pea in a gallon jug, and that represents the number of people who die every year in an earthquake. And then fill the jar
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with all the other kinds of beans you have and that would represent all the other people. In general, the message is, “If there are this many people in the world, only this one would die in an earthquake.” Examples from their own lives: What are some of the things you’ve done to get through difficult times? Sometimes our inclination is to entirely protect our children from what is happening. We would like for youth to have happy childhoods, some level of naiveté, and to grow up without having to live in fear. Perhaps the best route is to look at where the balance is, and to separate that from which children need protection from that for which children need support. What we can do: It is very helpful for students – really for anyone - if we can provide them the opportunity to do something. What are some of your ideas? Maybe we want to think about what we could do to help people who are struggling right here in our own community. What would that look like? Three: Provide the opportunity for students to do something. Research is showing that those who have something that they can do in the immediate aftermath of events fare better toward recovery. Young children could draw pictures of hope and send them to the Japanese Embassy or to aide agencies that are going over to Japan. Older students could do fundraising. Depending on the age of students/children, you may be able to move them toward doing something to help people locally. Current research on raising resilient children does not tell us that those children who are most resilient grew up without facing adversity. We know that we are all born with a capacity toward resiliency, and that what fosters resilience in children is having “protective factors” that allow them to face adversity with a network of support, compassion and understanding. In facing that challenge, children are able to draw on internal strength coupled with external support. With that, they are able to cope with the challenge and learn lessons that allow them to have a greater “toolkit” of healthy coping skills. There are a couple of other considerations about deciding whether or to what degree to shield your child knowing about these major events. One is that, when we are not within the area of impact, these events are a wonderful opportunity to help your child learn about how people survive difficult times at a time when it isn’t your crisis. Another positive is that this is a terrific time to teach empathy. Current research in the field of trauma, however, is telling us that exposure to these events by watching graphic coverage on television can manifest what is called “secondary trauma” or trauma within ourselves from high levels of exposure to the event. So where is the balance? It is absolutely prudent to shield your child/your students from the graphic television coverage. Turn the TV off. Instead, use less psychologically saturating materials, such as newspapers, or hop onto the internet and read (but skip the video footage). Reading and talking with children allows them the time to reflect and question. Television coverage doesn’t allow this reflection in the same way. So instead of thinking so much about protecting them from the awareness of frightening events, think more in terms of protecting them from receiving the information in ways that are psychologically overwhelming. As noted, another reason to take time to talk with children about these events is that they are likely to hear about them from others, even children as young as preschoolers. Children often don’t know whether to bring up frightening thoughts or issues to their parents. They sometimes read our silence on the issue as a nonverbal cue that this isn’t something that is open for discussion. Then they worry in silence and we don’t know. If the child can just continue speaking about it, let them talk. Try to remember the points to which you’ll want to return later, but try not to interrupt them if they are continuing to talk. If they aren’t talking easily, some questions you might ask could include: • How did you hear about it? • What do you know? • When you think about it, what things do you think might make children sad? • What kinds of things might make children fearful? MANAGEMENT INSTITUTE © 2011 Cheri Lovre, MS PO Box 331 * Salem, OR 97308 www.cmionline.org * (503) 585-3484 firstname.lastname@example.org
• What do you wish someone could answer? • What do you wish adults understood about how this is for you? What you might notice about these questions is that, in some cases, instead of asking “What do you feel,” we can ask “What might children be feeling…” The reason this is so effective is that it is less confrontational. The child can assume they might be answering for others, so they aren’t openly “owning” their fears, and yet you can assume that the fears they’re transferring to others are most likely their own. So when a child says that other children might be fearful it could happen to them, you might respond with, “That makes sense to me! I bet if I were your age I’d worry about exactly the same thing!” You’re validating that their fear is not unusual, but you also are going to follow up in the conversation with any honest assurances you can. For this stage, the goal is to let the child put words to their most feared aspects, because naming something is the beginning of a sense of control, and takes it out into the light from the hidden place inside them. Finally, remember, we all feel more empowered if we can do something that makes a difference. What can your children/students do? Raise money to give an organization? If the kids are old enough, they could make a project of researching what groups are doing what and choose one they’d most like to support. Remember, children don’t become resilient because they never face adversity. They become resilient because they face adversity with external supports including compassionate adults who listen, that we believe in their abilities to cope and have high expectations of them, and that we give them the means to contribute in a meaningful way. Model your belief in your calm manner. Listen more than you speak when students/children are trying to share their stories with you. Remember, it is possible to validate that you can understand children their ages having the fears they name without validating that the fears have a basis in reality. Clarify for them the ways that you accept their fears but don’t harbor them yourself, and why. But don’t ask children “why” about anything! It tends to put them on the defensive. More effective language might be, “Tell me more about that.” “When did you first think that?” or, “….feel that way?”
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QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS FOR
JAPAN DISASTER RELIEF EFFORT
1. To what organizations can a school contribute? There are many organizations that are accepting donations for relief efforts for the victims of the Japan earthquake and tsunami. We recommend that schools make their donations to the Mayor’s Fund to Advance New York City, which will then distribute them to reputable relief organizations that are working in or with Japan. You can visit www.nyc.gov for more information. If schools decide to donate to other organizations, they must make sure that they are reputable charitable organizations. 2. What types of fundraising activities can my school plan? There are many ways schools can raise funds. Below are some examples: a. Bake Sales: Each school will be allowed to hold one bake sale either during or after school hours to benefit the Japan disaster relief effort. For these bake sales, the Chancellor is temporarily waiving the restrictions in Chancellor’s Regulation A-812, but the following restrictions will remain in effect: No candy or soda may be sold to students; and No bake sales may take place in the school cafeteria. b. Used Book Sales: Used books may be collected and sold to raise money for the Japan disaster relief effort. c. Pledge-collecting activities, such as athletic events, walk-a-thons, read-athons or other tournaments. Students may collect pledges from parents and members of the community. These fund-raising events may not be held during the school day, and students may not collect pledges during school hours. There can be no direct solicitation of pledges or money from students anywhere in the school during the school day. d. Collection box for money (or other items). These should be placed in a secure common space in the school and the proceeds or items secured at the end of each day. Collections should be done this way so the identities of students making contributions and not making contributions are not revealed. e. Tickets-selling events, such as musical, theatrical or athletic events. 3. Are any activities prohibited? The following activities are not allowed: a. The sale of tickets for children’s attendance at movie houses and theatres, unless the project is directly connected with the curriculum.
b. c. d. e.
Door-to-door solicitations of funds by children. The sale of raffle tickets to any children. Bingo or any other form of gambling. Direct solicitation. No one – including staff, the School Leadership Team, parent associations, other students or outside organizations – can collect money or goods directly from students anywhere in school, including classrooms, home room and the cafeteria, at any time during the school day. However, as mentioned above, it is appropriate and permissible to place a collection box in a secure common space. Additionally, schools can recruit students to voluntarily participate in fundraising when school is not in session, as long as school personnel do not act as a conduit and collect funds from students on behalf of a charity. School personnel may distribute flyers or other literature, or otherwise notify students, of out-ofschool fundraising activities.
4. Are schools restricted in their ability to hold in-school fundraisers for Japan disaster relief efforts? In order for schools to be able to hold fundraisers to support the relief effort, the Chancellor has waived the restriction in Chancellor’s Regulation A-610 that limits the number of fundraising activities that may occur during school hours. The Chancellor is temporarily waiving this restriction to enable schools to engage in fundraising activities for Japan disaster relief. You can read Chancellor’s Regulation A-610 online at http://docs.nycenet.edu/docushare/dsweb/Get/Document-26/A-610.pdf 5. If I have specific legal questions not covered here, whom can I contact? If you have other ideas about ways your school can raise funds for the relief effort and have questions about whether they are permissible, contact the Office of Legal Services by calling (212) 374-6888, emailing AskLegal@schools.nyc.gov, or contacting your Senior Field Counsel or the DOE Ethics Officer at firstname.lastname@example.org. 6. Can people make individual donations to charitable organizations? Yes. Charitable organizations will accept direct contributions from individuals as well as from schools. 7. Can we collect cash, coins and checks? Yes, but it is important to remember that all giving must be voluntary. Please ensure that even where donations are made by check, neither the principal nor other school staff pressures staff members, parents, or students to contribute when they do not wish to do so voluntarily. We encourage you to deposit the funds into school bank accounts the same day, if possible, and then write out checks from the school account to the Mayor’s Fund to Advance New York City or other organization(s) of your choosing. In the meantime, we encourage you to keep the money in a secure place. Please also refer online to http://dfoapps.nycenet.edu/SOP/Default.aspx?c=1024 for standard operating procedures for collecting and accounting of funds. Additionally, if
schools collect checks made out directly to charitable organizations for Japan relief efforts, schools should forward those checks to the charitable organizations. 8. What if my school doesn’t have a bank account? Most schools should have bank accounts. If you do not have a school bank account, you can bring a money order or bank check to 65 Court St., Room 1802, Banking Unit. The money order or bank check should be payable to: Department of Education/Japan Disaster Relief. If you need any additional help, contact Rachid Dehbi from the Banking Unit at 718-935-5384 or at RDehbi@schools.nyc.gov. As mentioned above, we encourage you to keep the money in a secure place before it is deposited.
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