Dear Buckingham Friends School community members,

I have to believe that this weekend’s tragic news of yet another shooting, this time at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh, was as difficult for you to hear as it was for me.  There is a great deal to try and hold and understand, and I recognize that there are a range of issues associated with this situation and as we all labor to deal with our own thoughts and feelings.

We want to reassure you that we will continue to be vigilant in monitoring access to our buildings and campus, and as a school community, we are committed to helping the children feel safe and deal with their feelings should they arise.  Over the years, I have found the following points helpful when considering the needs of young children during times such as this:

  • Children, regardless of age, often find home to be a safe haven when the world around them becomes overwhelming.
  • Consider not exposing young children to television and radio reports.
  • Children pick up on attitudes and feelings of their parents.  Sort out your own feelings with other adults first.
  • If your child is aware of or learns about these events, be honest and answer the questions asked.  As our own thoughts and feelings continue to emerge, remember to clarify what children are asking and to answer their questions.  Try to resist sharing your own reactions if the question is more concrete.
  • Talking to your children about their worries and concerns is the first step to help them feel safe and begin to cope with the events occurring around them. What you talk about and how you say it does depend on their age, but all children need to be able to know you are there listening to them.

The following resources were gathered and provided by the National Association of Independent Schools (NAIS) and offer further resources for all of us to consider:

Talking to Children About Tragedies (American Academy of Pediatrics)

Helping Kids After a Shooting (American School Counselor Association)

Explaining the News to Our Kids (Common Sense Media)

Helping Children Cope with Frightening News (Child Mind Institute)

Our teachers are practiced in helping children talk about their feelings and how to understand the feelings of others.  They are always prepared to assess the emotional climate in their classrooms and to respond to the questions and needs of each group in age-appropriate ways.  As needed, we will answer questions simply and honestly, reassure students, and speak with you directly if necessary.  I encourage you to contact Linda Kamel directly if you have any thoughts or questions.

Please join me in holding the many families who have been impacted by these tragic events in the Light and our hearts.

Paul

PS Friends Council on Education Statement on Violence in Pittsburgh and Kentucky

For more than 300 years, Quaker schools have embraced both the historic Peace Testimony of the Religious Society of Friends, and the pioneering idea of William Penn that government and society should respect and enforce religious pluralism.  Indeed, Quaker schools have long championed the idea that our schools should be havens for students from all walks of life from all faith traditions.

Today Quaker schools advocate and teach non-violent resolution of conflict in order to eliminate the root causes of injustice and war. We believe that our embrace of peace promotes healthy and safe places to learn, to be known, and to be connected with adults and peers who will encourage positive growth regardless of race, religion, social status, age, or gender identity.

The tragic shootings at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and the supermarket in Jeffersontown, Kentucky are acts antithetical to the beliefs and practices of Quaker schools. Friends Council on Education affirms that Quaker schools stand for equality, integrity, and the rigorous search for truth. We mourn the senseless loss of life and we call on our schools to renew our collective commitment to actively working for peace. Let us affirm the conviction that all life is sacred and deserving of our deepest respect, and our commitment to creating a society that truly embraces our most cherished ideals. Let us join together as we strive to build peace and humanity in the world, seeking justice and equity for all.

(BFS is one of seventy-eight Friends schools in the U.S. and is a member of Friends Council on Education)

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