Clark County, the Nevada Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics, the Vegas Strong Resiliency Center and community partners invite parents, teachers and professionals who work with children to attend a free workshop on Thursday, Sept. 27, to learn about ways to help children cope with effects from 1 October and other causes of trauma and loss.
The workshop, entitled "Supporting Children After Crisis and Loss – One Year Later" will focus on how to support children who may be impacted by the 1 October shooting, its anniversary and other experiences of crisis and loss in their lives. The keynote speaker is Dr. David Schonfeld, a national expert on helping children deal with crisis and loss. The workshop is being offered twice on Sept. 27. Due to limited seating capacity, participants are asked to register for the session they want to attend through the online links provided below:
Dr. Schonfeld is a developmental-behavioral pediatrician and director of the National Center for School Crisis and Bereavement, www.schoolcrisiscenter.org, based at the University of Southern California. He has authored many articles and books on crisis and loss related to children, and has provided consultation and training on school crisis and pediatric grief in the aftermath of numerous school shootings, crisis events and disasters in the United States and abroad, including providing advice to schools in our community following the Route 91 festival shooting. His workshops are being sponsored by the Nevada Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics and New York Life in cooperation with Clark County, the Vegas Strong Resiliency Center, the Clark County School District, and Adam's Place, a local grief center for families and children.
"The Vegas Strong Resiliency Center is dedicated to helping everyone affected by 1 October build strength and resiliency in the aftermath of such a violent event, including our kids," said Clark County Assistant County Manager Kevin Schiller, who oversees the Vegas Strong Resiliency Center. "We welcome Dr. Schonfeld to our community, and hope parents and professionals gain some insights into supporting children who may be coping with trauma related to the shooting or anxiety because the incident occurred here."
"We welcome the opportunity to host these workshops in our community," said Dr. Pam Greenspon, a Las Vegas pediatrician and Vice President of the Nevada Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics. "Children and families have been impacted by 1 October in a variety of ways. The day after the shooting I had children in my office who were afraid to go to school, and some of their parents were afraid to send them. Some children never speak about the shooting and don't think they have been impacted. Others live with a baseline anxiety that they can be shot anytime or anywhere in the United States."
With the approach of the 1 October anniversary, some insights Dr. Schonfeld recommends to help parents support children include:
- The anniversary may cause children to experience fear, anxiety and other feelings they felt around the time of the shooting and/or remind them of a loss or injury of someone they knew or loved.
- Consider limiting the amount of coverage on television or other media (including internet and social media) about the anniversary, especially if it involves any graphic or emotional material.
- Children may not tell their parents or other adults that they have times when they are feeling upset or worried because they may be embarrassed about these feelings or do not want to upset their parents.
- Invite children to talk with you about what is bothering them. It is, though, generally not recommended to force them to talk (unless you are concerned that they may hurt themselves or others or are otherwise placing themselves in danger). Remain available and present, but wait for them to accept the invitation.
- Share your concerns and feelings and how you cope with them. Many children and adults are still having reactions to the shooting. They may appear to be "back to normal" but still – at times – be feeling sad, scared, anxious or angry. Help them learn how to cope with distress by sharing different strategies such as talking to someone you trust, expressing your feelings in writing, or healthy distraction such as exercise.
- Provide appropriate reassurance, but don't give false reassurance. If they have realistic concerns, help children learn to deal with the uncertainty and fear, rather than try to pretend that the concerns are unrealistic.
- Remind children of ways that you, school staff, and others in the community are doing everything possible to keep them safe.
- You can help your children prepare for commemorative activities that will take place in school and the community by having discussions with them at home ahead of time.
- You may wish to speak with your children's teacher, social worker, or school counselor; pediatrician; or mental health professional for advice or if you have concerns.
- Let your child's school know if you don't feel your children should participate in a memorial or commemorative event that is being held at school.
- Don't wait until you think your children need counseling – take advantage of counseling and support whenever you think it will be helpful. Contact the Vegas Strong Resiliency Center for resource referrals at www.VegasStrongRC.org.
- Some signs of distress to look for include:
- Sadness or depressed or irritable mood
- Anxiety or fears
- Problems with attention or new or worsening academic difficulties
- Changes in behavior
- Social isolation or withdrawal from friends or activities that were previously enjoyed
- Changes in appetite or sleep
- Physical complaints such as feeling tired, headaches, or stomach aches
- Acting less mature; having trouble getting along with friends or family members
- New onset or increase in use of alcohol, tobacco, or drugs
- Risky behaviors