I feel compelled to write to our community in the wake of yesterday’s school shooting at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas—the third tragic and senseless civilian attack on our country’s soil in less than two weeks’ time, following racially-motivated gun violence in Buffalo, New York, and Laguna Woods.
I long to provide comfort in this painful, raw moment. I imagine I am not alone. As adults in the community, we are obligated to create space for our children to ask questions; we need to provide a steady, non-anxious presence for them to ask difficult questions and to calmly respond to their fears.
Last night, Assistant Head of School and Middle School Division Head Gaby Akana offered resources to our faculty so they would feel steadier and more confident going into these planned and spontaneous conversations and discussions. You can find some of these resources at the end of this blog.
It is not lost on me that these are the same resources we have marshaled in the wake of past mass shootings, because it is the same conversation we are having—one fraught with grief and helplessness in which we are burdened with impossible conversations we never should have to embark upon, with children no less.
We recommend that as parents and guardians you regulate the images your children see, and for older children, you help them work on differentiating between reliable sources and hearsay. Follow your children’s lead as they process their feelings; answer what they ask but don’t provide extra details. They will ask additional questions at their own pace.
Children are more able to process their feelings when they see that the adults around them can handle uncomfortable feelings. Allow them to express feelings of anxiety or sadness, and don’t be too quick to reassure them that they are physically safe before allowing the space for them to share.
As a nation, we have not made any progress since Sandy Hook ten years ago, which at that time seemed to be the tipping point: the unthinkable mass murder of young children at school. Many of us were sure this would inspire common sense gun control laws to protect our most vulnerable.
As polarized as we are as a nation politically, the vast majority of American citizens believe in common-sense gun control, and I believe even the most diametrically opposed would agree that children should not be killed at school. That we spin our wheels indefinitely is shameful. That power and money supersede the welfare and very lives of children is reprehensible.
I don’t want to keep writing the same letter.
I don’t want to list the ways we keep our campus safe; I am proud of our attention to safety systems and procedures and grateful to our security team, Officer Ceja and Officer Trujillo for their firm commitment to protecting our community.
I don’t want to invoke cliches about hopes and prayers for the grieving parents.
I don’t want to wax poetic about pinning our hopes on the next generation, the very children whom we have forced to take responsibility in our lack of will, these children who practice lockdowns in the absence of purposeful leadership on this issue.
I will not allow myself to feel better because I empathized with the Uvalde community’s bewilderment, despair, and grief and told myself that was enough.
As a country, we pay lip service to caring about children and families. The lack of willingness to regulate guns as our children die in mass shootings should force us to ask whether we, as a nation, truly love children. I am thinking of the children of Uvalde and Parkland and Sandy Hook, their parents, the community, and all communities impacted by gun violence. They will never be the same. They will never truly recover, even as they come out the other side into an irrevocably changed world.
Who benefits from this world that refuses to allow the possibility of a saner, safer outcome for our children? How can we as adults learn and lean in? These may seem like overwhelmingly big questions, but one thing we can do is exercise our control as citizens and vote on critical issues like gun violence and other legislation that honors the rights all should enjoy in a functioning democracy.
As I listen to the sounds of children playing while I work through my own feelings in my many roles—educator, leader, partner, mom—and as I look at the precious and beautiful flower bouquets so lovingly bestowed upon us by the very children and families we protect so ardently, I take solace in the fact that I am part of the Turning Point community.
I hope today finds you and your family feeling the same way, and if you do find yourself in need of a little extra support or assurance, please do reach out.
Dr. Laura Konigsberg
Head of School
- Do’s and Don’ts from Dr. Becky (appropriate for younger children)
- Parent Guidelines for Helping Youth After the Recent Shooting (The National Child Traumatic Stress Network – English/Spanish)
- Talking to Children About Violence: Tips for Parents and Teachers (National Association of School Psychologists)
- Helping Children Cope with Frightening News (Child Mind Institute)
- Coping in the Aftermath of a Shooting (American Counseling Association)