Important Organizational Message Regarding Events in Washington D.C.
January 7, 2021
Yesterday’s historic violence at the Capitol building in Washington D.C., security breach, and forced lockdown reflect an extremely shocking and disturbing day in the US, on a day that was intended to unify and extend our long standing practice of confirming a peaceful transition in leadership despite political differences. The US has traditionally framed itself as a role model for democracy, opportunity, and the ability to exercise our voices productively and for good. Yet, by contrast, innocent minority groups continue to be at risk and yesterday innocent lawmakers, law enforcement officers, and local citizens were under attack– leaving Americans and our international colleagues in dismay and fear.
Following yesterday’s events, we have encouraged our faculty that today and in the days ahead they should be gentle with themselves, with our students, and with colleagues. We have recommended that they exercise their discretion as educators and clinicians and utilize their knowledge of the varying developmental needs of our students if students raise questions or if faculty observe or learn that specific students could benefit from additional processing or clinical support. Additionally, we have provided a series of resources for educators and clinicians that can be drawn upon for engaging students in supportive and respectful discussions. Yesterday’s incidents follow and overlap with an unprecedented period of grave challenges that has affected all of us as a community through a global health crisis, racial impact, and political divisiveness so it’s very important that together we remain aware of the layered stress that some may be experiencing.
We would like our parent/guardian community to know that you may outreach to your student’s case manager anytime if you believe your student would benefit from a check-in with a psychologist or clinician or to keep us abreast of how your student is presenting at home. The following resource from the National Association of School Psychologists may also be helpful for guiding discussions with your child/young adult and family.
Additionally, quick actionable items shared in the PBS article “Helping Kids Navigate Scary New Stories” recommend:
1. Listen and Clarify
Encourage your students to share what they already know, let them ask questions, and then offer simple, age-appropriate, clarifying information. Try to help them distinguish between truth and rumor. With every news report of a scary thing, we can help them to patiently wait for all the information to come out, instead of latching onto the scary rumors that seem to fly around when such things happen.
2. Look For The Helpers
The timeless advice from Fred Rogers still applies today. He said, “When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, ‘Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.’” For example, if kids hear about a fire in the area, talk about the brave firefighters who quickly arrive on the scene. If they hear about a natural disaster, talk about all the ways people come together to help those in need – providing food, opening their homes, and raising money. As Harvard’s Richard Weissbourd reminds us, kids and adults alike are “more distressed when we feel helpless and passive — and more comfortable when we are taking action.”
3. Above all, Reassure.
Kids need to know that the adults in their lives are there to help and protect them. Reassure them that supportive and caring adults are available and that they can always bring their questions and worries to you and that you will work through them together. We cannot fully “news proof” our lives when unsettling events happen in the world, but we can help kids navigate what they hear through simple, responsive, reassuring conversations.
As always, please feel free to reach out to your student’s team at Milestones if we can be of further assistance to your family during this challenging time. We are encouraging our faculty team members at Milestones to draw upon both our own strength and the collective strength of our Milestones community as we are fortunate to serve in roles that afford us the opportunity to be positive role models each day.
The Milestones Executive Team