Ways to Help Students in Response to World Events

World events, like accidents, natural disasters, deaths of prominent figures, mass violence, civil disorder, war and conflict can impact individuals, classes, schools, communities and beyond, depending on their nature and scope. 

How students react to events will vary. Developmental stage, physical or emotional proximity to the event, and prior experience with traumatic circumstances can impact how students respond. Reactions can last for days and sometimes weeks. Typically, they subside over time as we help students talk through feelings, reassure them that they are safe and protected, and help them to gain perspective.

For Parents/Guardians…

  • As parents and grandparents, recent world events trouble us, and we hold our children even closer. Try to protect your children from witnessing the negative news on a daily basis. 
  • As educators, we know we are entrusted with your children each day, and we take our responsibility for your child’s safety and comfort at school very seriously.
  • In talking with your children during this difficult time, some of the advice from practitioners in trauma response may be helpful. Reach out to your child’s school.  
  • Key messages for supporting children include:
    • Reassure your child that s/he is safe.  
    • Provide extra emotional support (attention, affection).
    • Minimize their exposure to media coverage of the events.  
    • Talk calmly about the events, and answer any questions they might have at a good level for their age (not too much detail, especially for younger children).
    • Look for signs that your child is struggling (e.g., nervousness, irritability, problems eating or sleeping)
    • Reach out for support if needed 
    • Try to not impose negative opinions and views on your child as kindness creates a better environment for your child to experience and live in on a daily basis.  

This information was created by School Mental Health Ontario.