December 14, 2012 

Dear Northville School Families, Staff and Community Members, 

We all struggle to understand how and why senseless violence can impact our schools and our communities, and we grieve for the children, teachers, families and community of Newtown, Connecticut whose lives are forever impacted by the tragic events today in Newtown. 

Parents often ask how they can best support their children and young adults as they too grapple with news of incomprehensible tragedy.  The attached document from the National Association of School Psychologists provides some helpful information about talking with children about violence. 

There are several key messages, reinforced in the attached document, that are important to keep in mind:

  • Limit exposure to the media – radio, television, online.  Developmentally inappropriate information can cause anxiety or confusion, particularly in young children.  Adults also need to be mindful of the conversations that they have with each other in front of children, even teenagers, and limit their exposure to vengeful, hateful, and angry comments that may be misunderstood.
  • Reassure children of their safety in our schools.  Our school staff works with students, parents, our local police and fire departments, and community leaders to keep our schools safe as possible. 
  • Our schools have a daily security plan in place, we limit access to our schools by locking our doors and monitoring who comes in and out, we practice drills to keep everyone safe, and we ask everyone to be watchful and to report anything that seems out of the ordinary.  We have supervision in our hallways and on our playgrounds, and we have police liaison officers from Northville Township Police Department who work directly with our schools, students and families. 
  • Everybody plays a role in keeping our school safe.  Be observant and let an adult know if you see or hear something that makes you feel uncomfortable, nervous or frightened.  There is a difference between reporting and tattling or gossiping. 
  • Senseless violence is hard for everyone to understand.  Doing things you enjoy, sticking to a normal routine, being with friends and family help make us feel better and keep us from worrying about the event.
  • Violence is never a solution to personal problems.  Students can be a part of the positive solution by participating in anti-violence programs at school, learning conflict resolution skills, and seeking help from an adult if they or a peer are struggling with anger, depression or other emotions they cannot control.  Programs like positive behavior support, peer mediators, Leader in Me, and playground conflict managers are ways that we work on these skills at school. 

 

Please know that our teachers and school staff will reinforce these same messages (including those referenced in the attached document) at school as appropriate.  As always, our school principals and social workers are available should you have questions, or would like help in addressing concerns your child may express.  Thank you, as always, for partnering with Northville Public Schools to work together to keep our children safe, and able to focus on learning in a caring and supportive school environment. 

Sincerely,

Mary Kay Gallagher

Superintendent