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Terrorism and the Classroom

Dealing With Trauma in School

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The terrorist attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001 are frightening to all Americans. It is important at this time to remember that children need special attaention during this time. Following are some tips to help deal with this tragedy in the classroom. Please note, these tips are meant for secondary school students.

  • Acknowledge to children that these attacks are very frightening, and it is okay to have these feelings. It is important not to falsely minimize the danger because this will not end a child's concerns.
  • Portray confidence in the authorities. It is important that children realize that while the events are frightening, there are people whose job it is to help bring these terrible events to resolution.
  • Try not to act with alarm. It is very easy for this type of feeling to spread throughout a classroom. Instead, try to remain calm.
  • Keep control of all discussions. Do not allow students to start talking about rumors. Make a rule that students can only talk about facts that have been confirmed.
  • Try to continue with your daily routine. This will reassure students by giving them familiar structure to their lives. Try to deal with the issue at hand and then move on.
  • If the students still seem to need further discussion. You could have them perform a writing assignment on a topic such as:
    'What is your greatest fear about these attacks?'
    'What would you like to say to the families of those killed in this terrible tragedy?'
    'What would you say to the terrorist who is responsible for this act?'
You can then write comments back to the students to help them cope.

It is important to remember that you are the adult in the classroom, and students look to you for guidance and advice. The way you act during a tragedy such as this will give them cues of how to act.
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