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Supporting Your Child During Distressing World Events

As the events continue to unfold in Israel and Gaza, we will remember to hold in our hearts and prayers, those impacted by the attacks over the weekend and by the ongoing violence in the region. Your children may hear information or see unsettling images on the news and/or through social media channels. Any high-profile act of mass violence can confuse and frighten children and youth, and they will look to adults for information and guidance. Therefore, we are providing resources should you wish to speak to the children and youth you care about and explain the current events taking place.

We must also take the time to recognize that these attacks coincide with increasing antisemitism and Islamophobia throughout the world. We must be intentional about maintaining open minds and open hearts to see all members of our community through eyes of acceptance. Additionally, we must remain vigilant in standing together against acts and messages of hate towards the affected communities at a time when they need our compassion most.

Here are a few suggestions to consider when speaking with children and youth about distressing world events:

  1. Reassure children and youth that they are safe; remind them that you and other adults are there to protect them. Remain calm, as adult reactions will set the tone for them.
  2. Validate their feelings; explain that all feelings are okay and let children and youth talk about their feelings and help put them into perspective.
  3. Make time to talk; let the questions of children and youth be your guide as to how much information to provide. 
  4. Keep your explanations developmentally appropriate.
  5. Observe children’s emotional state and look for changes in behaviour, appetite, and sleep patterns. Seek out support if needed.
  6. Limit exposure to graphic or disturbing media images and messaging as this can cause anxiety or confusion.
  7. Try to maintain routines to increase a sense of predictability.
  8. Try to establish family time or class time that provides a positive distraction; work together, play together, laugh together, pray together.
  9. Remember to reflect on your own emotional responses and model positive ways of coping with fear, sadness, and worry. 
  10. And finally, ask for help if you need it. You don’t have to face this experience alone.

Some students, families, and staff may need extra support in the days and weeks ahead. Below are some resources that you may find useful. Parents/guardians/caregivers and students are encouraged to reach out to the school team if they need further direction or have questions.

Supports Available:

On October 8, Pope Francis wrote: “I express my closeness to the families and the victims… Let us pray that there will be peace in Israel and in Palestine.” As a Catholic community of learners, we will continue to provide inclusive and supportive environments for our students and educate them against hate in all forms.