December 16, 2012

Maine hostage horror recalled as state grapples with response

The former principal of a Stockton Springs school urges parents to protect their kids.

By Beth Quimby bquimby@pressherald.com
Staff Writer

(Continued from page 1)

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TALKING TO YOUR KIDS

Here are tips from the National Traumatic Stress Network for parents on how to talk to children about mass shooting.

Start the conversation. Talk about the shooting with your child. Not talking about it can make the event even more threatening in your child's mind.

Start by asking what your child already has heard about the events. Listen carefully for misinformation, misconceptions and underlying fears or concerns.

Gently correct inaccurate information. Take time to provide the correct information in simple, clear, age-appropriate language.

Encourage your child to ask questions, and answer those questions directly.

This may be a time to review plans your family has for keeping safe in the event of any crisis situation.

Let your child know the person cannot hurt anyone else.

Limit media exposure, both your child's and your own. Do not allow your very young children to see or hear any TV/radio shooting-related messages.Portland candlelight vigil set

The Maine Citizens Against Handgun Violence is organizing a vigil at 5 p.m. Sunday at Monument Square in Portland.

Karen D'Andrea, executive director, said the vigil is in response to Friday's shooting of children and school staff in Newtown, Conn. Everyone is invited and asked to bring a candle if possible.

Portland City Councilor Edward Suslovic, a member of the anti-handgun organization's board, said he is encountering more anger from the public than after previous mass shootings.

"There is an anger there that had not been present for other recent mass shootings," said Suslovic.

- From staff reports

Others who deal with traumatized children said in the aftermath of the Newtown shootings, it is important for parents to stick to routines, provide children a sense of security, take a break from the news and do something relaxing or fun.

"A good night's sleep, a good breakfast with fruit, exercise, those really boring things," said Elizabeth Dostie, clinical and program director at The Maine Children's Home for Little Wanderers in Waterville.

Susan Giambalvo, programs director at the Center for Grieving Children in Portland, said it is important for parents to talk to their children about the Connecticut shootings because their children have almost certainly heard about the tragedy.

"I don't think you can leave it alone because it is so very present in the media, in our homes, in the newspapers," said Giambalvo.

She said sometimes children are more frightened and upset if they feel they can't talk with their parents about things they are hearing about. Parents should try to reassure their children and provide a sense of security for children who may not be as eager to enter a school on Monday morning.

"You might want to drop them off at school instead of taking the bus, (and) check in during the day," said Giambalvo.

Adults can lessen their own anxieties by staying connected with people, she said.

"When we have these support systems in place they serve to remind us that most people in the world are good and do care about each other," she said.

Doing something for someone else can really help relieve adult anxieties, said Giambalvo, adding that it is OK to be happy despite the sad event.

"Do the things you enjoy," she said.

Staff Writer Beth Quimby can be contacted at 791-6363 or at:

bquimby@pressherald.com

 

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