On the afternoon of Tuesday, June 5, 2012, a package was received at False Creek Elementary. The package appeared suspicious and the VPD was called. Police attended the school and removed the package. Since that time, the package and its contents have recieved wide-spread media attention.
Many children who watch the news on TV, hear about it on the radio or read about it in newspapers may have questions about what it all means. These questions can be challenging for parents to answer. The following guidelines are offered as an optional support for you should the need arise as this incident may cause anxiety for your child.
The key message for parents and teachers is to limit the exposure for students at all grade levels as much as possible, to what continues to be extensive media coverage. This may mean being aware of what children are watching on television or via the internet.
Children look to adults for information and guidance on how to react when an upsetting event occurs. There are a number of things you can do to help your child feel safe and understood. The most important of these is to be available and willing to talk about any concerns that may arise.
- Reassure your child that they are safe. Let them know your family, the school, and the police have many practices and procedures in place to ensure their safety. Remind them of the typical safety practices you already use as a family, as well as some of the practices used at their school.
- Make time to talk. Even if your child seems unaffected by this event, you can still provide guidance and direction to them on various social issues that can arise during discussion. This may include developing their understanding of the role we all have in keeping communities safe, and that acting responsibly when aware of any concerning information or event, can lead to a more positive outcome for the whole community.
- Limit television and internet exposure related to this event, especially for younger children.
- Be accepting of your child's emotional response. Guilt, anger, fear, sadness, or having no emotional reaction, are all typical and normal responses following a stressful event. Acknowledge your child's feelings. Let them know that what they are feeling is okay with you, and that you are there to help them. This can be done through listening, reframing misperceptions or misinformation, and assuring them that they have done nothing wrong.
- Maintain normal routines. Having a sense of normalcy reassures and empowers children during times of stress. It sends a message that although the event may have been upsetting, it need not change our usual routines both at home and at school. Physical activity, sleep, and regular meals will all be of help.
- Orient your child towards the future, and empower them. Help your child think about their friends, summer plans, upcoming events, and anything else they may be looking forward to. Also, help them identify actions they can initiate that could have a positive impact on your family, the school, and the community.
- Access additional supports if needed. If your child continues to experience difficulties that are not typical for them, and do not diminish over time, seek advice and/or additional support from a school counsellor, administrator, or family doctor. The types of behaviours to watch for are prolonged and intense emotional responses, disruptions to normal sleeping or eating patterns, isolating oneself, having obsessive negative thoughts about oneself, others, or life in general, and becoming preoccupied with violence.