December 17th, 2012
05:27 PM ET

Six tools to help kids deal with the Sandy Hook shootings

It's the first day back in class since a mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, and  questions aren't necessarily getting easier to answer. Just as parents and teachers want to know why 20 children and six educators died, many kids are trying to piece together what happened and what it means.

Here are tools, guidance and suggestions to help you decide how to talk about with the kids in your life, whether in class or at home.

1) CNN Student News devoted Monday's 10-minute episode to explaining and reflecting on the shooting and its aftermath. Student News is a free, commercial-free, daily news show for middle and high school classrooms. Some students who wanted to type out thoughts, questions, reflections and prayers are sharing on the CNN Student News A to Z blog, as well.

2) Know the signs of anxiety and fear. Children of different age groups express emotions in different ways, whether they're directly affected or traumatized by conversations and media. Here are suggestions for how to handle each age group, and what signs reveal they're still struggling.

"It is minute by minute, case by case. It's really a matter of listening and responding in a way that fits the framework of their understanding," said Dr. John B. Lochridge, an Atlanta-based child and family psychiatrist.

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Filed under: Issues • School violence
December 17th, 2012
01:36 PM ET

My View: Above all, teachers are in it for the kids

Courtesy CNNBy Donna Krache, CNN

Editor’s note: Donna Krache is executive producer of CNN Student News, and an editor of the Schools of Thought blog. She is a former middle and high school social studies teacher.

(CNN) – In the 1980s, when I stepped in front of my first class of high school students, we didn’t worry about attacks on schools. The phrase “school shooting” was not part of the education lexicon. The tragedy at Columbine High School was years in the future.

There was no Internet and no cellphones, a time most of today’s students would think was hundreds of years ago.

And yet, something that my first principal said about teaching still rings true today.

“No matter what some people will tell you,” he said, “anyone who is in teaching is in it for the kids.”

The teachers I know are certainly not in it for the money, nor the accolades, nor – despite what some believe – the two months off in the summer. That’s when many teachers find second jobs to make ends meet until they can return to their classrooms.

They’re in it in part because of a passion for a subject and for knowledge and they want to pass that love of history, or science, or math to the next generation.

But more importantly, they are in it for the kids.

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Filed under: School safety • Teacher Appreciation • Teachers • Voices
Newtown school shooting
December 17th, 2012
04:30 AM ET

What really makes schools safer?

By Jamie Gumbrecht, CNN

(CNN) - Sandy Hook Elementary School probably did everything right. Its staff and teachers worked every day to create a climate that valued kindness and posted the plan for all to see. They had lockdown drills that trained everyone to stay low and quiet in the event of an emergency. A security system introduced this year required visitors to ring a bell, sign-in and perhaps produce a photo ID. After 9:30 a.m., the doors were locked.

And now it's the home of the one of the worst school shootings in U.S. history. Twenty children dead and eight adults, including the shooter.

Those who know the world of school security are already predicting what comes next: A strong reaction - maybe an overreaction - by parents, schools and legislators who want to take action. Politicians will be elected on platforms of school safety. Vendors will turn up with technology and plans to sell. Schools will rewrite their crisis plans and run extra drills.

It happened after the shooting at Columbine High School in Littleton, Colorado, in 1999, and again after the 2007 massacre at Virginia Tech.

And within a few months or years, it'll be back to cutting security budgets and fighting for time to train staff and teachers.

"The vast majority have a crisis plan on paper. It's much more common that we find those plans are collecting dust on the shelf and they're not a part of the culture or the practice," said Kenneth Trump, a school security consultant. "I don't believe we need to throw out the book of best practices on school safety. I think we do need to focus our resources, times and conversation back on the fundamentals."

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Filed under: Issues • School safety • School violence