Encouraging the Student Response to the Parkland Tragedy

Given the recent tragedy in Parkland Florida, I want to offer some resources to help your daughters process these difficult events.  As the nation’s long-running debate on gun rights continues, it has also sparked a youth-led gun control movement spearheaded by survivors of the attack.

Dr. Deborah Gilboa, a parenting expert, says parents should ask their teens if they have heard about the latest tragedy and allow them to share their feelings. You may find your daughters saddened, confused, and perhaps, fearful.  Schools should be a place where students not only feel safe but are safe and these events are both saddening and unsettling.  “Teenagers are looking for hypocrisy and solutions and this generation believes in collaboration and social justice. And they are going to ask ‘What are you doing,’” she says. “You can answer and then ask ‘what are you doing? What would you like to do? What can we do together?”

According to Gilboa, teaching teenagers to work toward change will help them be resilient. She stresses that parents still need to listen to their teens’ feelings and display empathy: “I think for anyone, action makes us feel effective…what we want our kids to do when [they] see something wrong is to try to fix it.”

It is helpful to watch television or internet coverage with your daughter, to talk about your own values, and give her the opportunity to express her thoughts. She may have questions and ideas about the steps she would like to take within her world. We are in this together and we need to support and comfort each other in order to help those in need. All steps great and small can make a difference.

The speeches of students who experienced the shooting are filled with emotion and idealism. Delaney Tarr, a student from Parkland High, spoke about the movement: “It is based on passion and it is based on pain. Our biggest flaws, our tendency to be a bit too aggressive, our tendency to lash out, things that you expect from a normal teenager, these are our strengths.”Mary DeLorenze School Psychologist
The teens of our country are calling us to action and we need to give them the love, support, and encouragement they need to have a voice and bring forth positive change.
Here are some resources that you may find helpful:
Tips for Talking to Students About School Shootings
National Child Traumatic Stress Network

Mary DeLorenzo
APH School Psychologist