It has been a difficult week for all of us, especially those directly affected by the bombings and their aftermath. I hope that you and yours are safe; if you are connected to someone who was killed or injured, I hope that you have a strong support network to help you through this difficult time. If we at Diamond can help in any way, please do not hesitate to reach out. At times like these, we are reminded again of the importance of community and connection. We will do the very best we can to provide these for your student, now and going forward.
One of the ways that we are trying to strengthen our community is by educating students about social media and cyber-communication. On Monday,April 22 we have invited representatives from MARC (Massachusetts Aggression Reduction Center) to speak with all students. MARC is one of the most effective organizations in the state working in this area. They provide quality presentations to both professionals and to students, and we are pleased to have them present at Diamond this Monday.
How our students use social media is largely dependent on decisions you make as a family, and the rules you set up at home. I would encourage you to follow this link to the MARC website to find out more: http://webhost.bridgew.edu/marc/ Please talk with your child Monday evening or in the following days, to hear from them what they took away from the assembly, and what their concerns about social media might be. At this age in particular, being involved in this part of your child’s life is really important. Much of the hurt and unhappiness that we unpack during the school day has its roots in this form of communication. We welcome your partnership in helping students navigate this world safely and productively.
We have just finished our first round of MCAS testing for this school year, focused on English Language Arts. Overall, Diamond students really gave it their all, reading and writing for hours. In the 6th grade, many teachers conducted a few short relaxation activities before testing started, to help students settle in for the day. We don't want any student to be anxious about the testing, but we do want everyone to put forth their best effort; while this is only one snapshot of your child's progress, it is an important one in today's world. (And "best effort" is a habit of mind we are always encouraging!) Our next round of testing will be Math, on May 7 and 8.
I have been in contact all weekend with other Lexington administrators, especially those at the secondary level. We are reviewing our emergency plans, including the lockdown procedures that we have in place and practice yearly. All schools have a Crisis Team whose members have been trained by national and local safety experts, and I assure you that careful thought has gone into making sure that all possible safeguards are in place.
You have already received an email from Dr. Ash, with suggestions for how to speak to children of different ages about this tragic event. We do encourage you to speak with your secondary student, as that gives you the opportunity to frame the information, and to check in on their feelings. Remember to listen carefully to discover their concerns, so that you can speak directly to those. We also encourage you to do what you can to limit your child’s exposure to news, video and internet discussions of this event; repeated and detailed exposure is definitely not helpful. As always, it is also a good idea to be monitoring your child’s use of social media.
On Monday, we will be prepared to support any student that needs more help in processing this event. While we will acknowledge the tragedy, we will not be discussing the details in classes. We will do our best to maintain a sense of normalcy, while knowing that there will be a range of reactions for individuals. If you are seeing any signs that your child may need more support, please don’t hesitate to let us know. Similarly, we will be in touch if we see anything.
It is at times like this that we know how truly important connections and community are. Please let us know if we can support you or your family in any way.
Taken from Dr. Ash's message on Saturday, about speaking with your secondary school child:
Be as direct and honest. Sherwood says parents should let their kids know, "I know you know what happened. If you want to talk about it I'm here." If they ask a question such as, "why would somebody do this?" be honest that people sometimes have lots of anger and bad feelings that make them want to hurt and kill other people.
Think about social media exposure. Social media tools like Facebook and Twitter can make your kids feel like they're very much a part of a tragedy such as the Newtown, CT school shooting, says Dr. Schonfeld. While it's not realistic to ask your kids to stay off their smartphones or avoid their Twitter feeds completely, you should advise them to think carefully about their social media exposure and how much time they're spending reading, following and responding to what's on these outlets. And if they're upset by the constant stream of information, reassure them that you're available to talk -- and make sure they know it's okay to stop paying attention to the story and do something else.
Reassure them that feeling different or angry is okay. Reassure your kids that an individual who committed such a crime has other serious problems and take the opportunity to talk about other troubling feelings your children might have.
Approach it from the third person. Teenagers are not exactly known for their willingness to communicate with their parents, but Schonfeld says you can sometimes back into a conversation by saying something like this at the dinner table: "So I heard about this on the news. What were your friends saying about this?" Never force your kids to talk, but let them know you are there if they are ever ready to discuss it.
Don't feel obligated to give a reason for what happened. "Resist the temptation to come up with simple answers to complex situations," says Dr. Schonfeld. Although parents often want to provide a reason for why someone committed such a crime, the reality is we just don’t quite know. And that's okay.
Here to see an excellent video on the subject of talking to children about tragic events like this.