Terrorism and Violence in Israel

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We join Canadians across the country in our shock and sadness at the acts of terrorism and violence in Israel over this weekend. Our thoughts are with all those who are affected by this violence.  We condemn terrorism, violence, antisemitism and all forms of hate and discrimination. We remain committed to creating learning and working environments that are safe, welcoming and inclusive for all learners and staff members.

The conflict in Israel will undoubtedly affect the sense of safety and well-being of many YRDSB students, staff, families and our communities. We will continue to provide the reassurance of safety inside our buildings. We will continue to follow our protocol for addressing incidents of hate and discrimination, and work with our community partners to ensure our schools and workplaces are safe for children and our staff.

As a school Board, we will be sharing tips for staff members to address conversations that may occur in the classroom in ways that are supportive and promote student well-being. We are committed to creating safe spaces for the students and staff who enter into our schools each day, and we will continue to uphold this safety inside of our buildings. 

We appreciate that many students and families in our Board may have a direct connection to this tragedy, and are experiencing pain and worry at this time.  We want to ensure support for student mental health and well-being is available as needed.  If you feel that your child may benefit from support from our Board’s mental health clinicians, please speak with your child’s school. 

Mental health clinicians have also prepared some tips for families to consider when discussing global incidents of violence with their children. 

Families are encouraged to:

  • spend time together,
  • create time for conversation and checking in,
  • validate their child’s feelings,
  • ask for help as needed, and
  • find calm and relaxing activities to do at home.

It is very important to limit exposure to media coverage, including social media, for children and youth. If children or youth are watching the news or accessing information online, parents and caregivers should be available to check in and talk to their children about what they are seeing.

Families and educators can support children and youth in understanding and coping with the impact of violence. Most children and youth are resilient and will cope well with the support and caring of their families, teachers, friends, and other caring adults. However, young children may have particular difficulty understanding and describing their feelings and emotions.

Some tips for families and caregivers to help children and youth cope with and understand violence include:

  • Provide a developmentally appropriate, clear, and straightforward explanation of the events, without sharing graphic or unnecessary details, (if the student wants to know more, they will ask).
  • Address unhelpful rumors which may be circulating and to refocus children and youth on facts.
  • Support your child to return to normalcy and routine, while maintaining flexibility.
  • Let your child know it’s okay to feel upset or angry about the situation.
  • Observe and listen to the questions and statements from children and youth about the event, reach out for support if you are concerned for your child.
  • Provide various ways for your child to express emotion, either through journaling, writing letters, talking, meditation, yoga, music, or other physical activities that allow for the release of energy.
  • While difficult, support your child to focus on the hope to be found, as well as the compassion of others in moments of profound tragedy.

This is an important time to reinforce the natural and varied coping strategies of children and youth, and emphasize the proactive steps that families, communities, and schools take each day to maintain a safe and caring  environment around them, including their schools. Bolstering additional opportunities for your child’s self-care and well-being can be helpful in promoting an increased sense of safety and well-being in their environments. 

Resources for Educators and Families:

Culturally Relevant Resources for Emotional Well-Being:

  • Jewish Family and Child Services is a multi-service agency that strengthens and supports individuals, children, families and communities within the context of Jewish values. Jewish Family and Child Services offers affordable, professional counselling that is confidential and convenient. 
  • Naseeha provides an anonymous, non-judgmental, confidential and toll-free peer support helpline for any youth experiencing personal challenges, including those of Muslim identities. Naseeha’s services are open to all regardless of age, race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, gender identity, family makeup, social status, income, ability, physical and mental health, and religion. 
  • Khalil Center is a psychological and spiritual community wellness centre advancing the professional practice of psychology rooted in Islamic principles. Khalil Center utilizes faith-based approaches rooted in Islamic theological concepts while integrating the science of psychology towards addressing psychological, spiritual and communal health

General Supports for Emotional Well-Being:

  • Victim Services of York Region provides crisis counselling and referrals for longer-term support. Advice and support for families and educators on best practices for providing support can be found here.  
  • Kids Help Phone provides support for children and youth.  Professional counsellors are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. 
  • 310-COPE provides crisis counselling for all. Professional counsellors are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.