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Responding to, and Recovering from, School Violence

obriena's picture

Updated 12/17/12 & 12/18/12

All children deserve to be safe at school. But sometimes, as on December 14, 2012, the unthinkable happens. The deepest sympathies of the entire education community go out to those in Newtown, Connecticut, as they deal with a horrendous tragedy.

As American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten said on the day of the incident, "The entire AFT community is shaken to its core by this massacre of young children and the educators and school employees who care for and nurture them. … We grieve for them all, and our prayers are with the Sandy Hook Elementary School community and all of Newtown, as well as the AFT nurses caring for victims at Danbury Hospital, following this heinous act.” Read the complete statement…

The Association for Middle Level Education grieved the tragedy, pointing out that "As educators, we care deeply about our students, and while we struggle to make sense of such an event, students struggle as well. It is particularly important to help students as they process the emotions generated by a traumatic event. ... We need to help calm their fears and bring back a sense of security and help parents and caregivers understand the importance of attending to their children with respect to the fears and anxieties that such a situation invokes." Read the complete statement...

National Association of Elementary School Principals Executive Director Gail Connelly mourned the tragic loss of life resulting from the shooting at the school, including that of the principal, Dawn Hochsprung, who was a member of NAESP. As she pointed out, “Elementary schools are meant to be safe havens that nurture and support our nation’s children, which makes today’s shootings even more horrendous. NAESP extends heartfelt condolences and deepest sympathies to the entire Sandy Hook school community, and joins them in mourning the children and adults whose lives were lost.” Read the complete statement…

National Association of Secondary School Principals Executive Director Joann Bartoletti extended sympathies to the Sandy Hook community and was "encouraged by the compassion that so many teachers, administrators, counselors, and social workers have shown to students as they struggle to understand this senseless event. We are grateful for their support, and we pray that such support will never be required again." Read the complete statement...

National Association of State Boards of Education Executive Director Jim Kohlmoos said that “At NASBE, our hearts are breaking with the news from Connecticut today, and our deepest sympathies, and I know those of state board members around the country, go out to the victims and their families. As we and so many others promote policies and values to help make schools safe places for children to learn and thrive, we are sometimes reminded that so much more needs to be done.” Read the complete statement…

National Education Association President Dennis Van Roekel joined “the Newtown community and our entire nation in mourning the deaths of innocent children and educators due to violence. As members of the education community, we extend our deepest sympathies to members of the AFTCT who have lost friends and colleagues.” Read the complete statement…

National PTA President Betsy Landers said that “National PTA feels enormous sympathy for the students, families and communities affected by the horrendous tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., today.  Our country has experienced far too many of these tragedies, and we all share in the sense of loss and hurt.” Read the complete statement…

National School Boards Association President C. Ed. Massey reminded us that “Tears are being shed in Connecticut and across the United States for the families of those killed or injured in the Newtown school shooting. It is a tragedy. Our hearts and our prayers go out to the students, schools staff, parents, and all of those affected.” Read the complete statement…

National School Public Relations Association Executive Director Rich Bagin said that “Our hearts and prayers go out to all those touched by the tragic shootings in Connecticut today. … This tragedy is just another reminder that it really "does take a village" to protect the well-being of our school communities. There is nothing as sacred as the protection and well being of all our children.” 

While we grieve and try to make sense of what does not, we must also do our best to help the children who experienced this trauma recover from it, and to prevent incidents like this from happening again. Members of the Learning First Alliance offer a number of resources to help keep students safe at school. Resources that might be of particular interest at this time include: