Tough conversations on school safety expected when students return to class

KWTX News 10 at 10P
Published: May. 30, 2022 at 8:41 AM CDT
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WACO, Texas (KWTX) - Difficult conversations are expected for teachers when school starts after the summer.

Uvalde’s school shooting has, understandably, caused concern for many. It may even have elementary school students questioning their own safety in the classroom.

Because the target in the Uvalde shooting was young children, there is an added shock and maybe fear among that age group. So, when kids are back in class next year, they may be coming up to their teacher with some tough questions.

“We do hear from our teachers that there is an elevated need for preparation and materials and just trying to understand what has been happening,” said Jeni Janek, Region 12 education specialist/ school crisis response team leader.

Part of Janek’s job includes providing resources to area schools after tragedies. She is noticing a lot of teachers and parents need help explaining these subjects to their children.

“We can’t promise that nothing bad will ever happen, but we can say we are committed to every best effort to take care of our children,” said Janek.

It is a tough task, trying to make sense of events plaguing the nation. But, Janek said, the best thing to do is tell children the truth, but on an age-appropriate level.

Then, let them ask questions.

“Those are important times for us as educators and parents,” Janek said. “To talk to them and let them give us what they know, and then be able to give the support back to them.”

The research her and her Region 12 education partners follow shows the best way to get kids to open up is to let them know you are there.

“One of the strongest factors for ensuring safety for our kids – and it’s not one that you’ll probably think is very common – is a strong positive relationship with a safe, trusted adult,” Janek said.

And with more troubling content slipping through social media, there is a possibility kids have seen something that concern them.

“When they ask us questions and want to have conversations with us, we have to stop and pause,” said Janek. “And make sure we’re addressing their concerns and their stress, because that’s very real to them.”

And when children do come with questions, the words used to the children are also important.

“You’re loved, your cared for,” said Janek. “They’re simple words, but they mean a lot to kids and they need to hear it.”

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