Children, Loss and Traumatic Events: Resources for Teachers and Families.

By Donna Gaffney | December 20, 2012

The tragic events at Sandy Hook Elementary School have touched nearly every classroom across our country and the world. This senseless act of violence has a ripple effect, beginning with the students most affected, those at Sandy Hook Elementary School, and extending to siblings and friends in nearby schools, and then to families and neighbors in the community. However, because this tragedy occurred in a school and the victims are young students and teachers, the waves of sadness and grief ripple even further.

The For Action Initiative believes that we must be responsive to these heinous acts. While schools are not in the business of providing mental health services, they can provide an emotionally safe environment and assist children to become resilient, contributing members of society. We must help teachers talk about this difficult subject in the classroom in a meaningful yet calming way and encourage students to take actions of their own. Actions that are compassionate and courageous, actions that commemorate and console. Students, no matter how young, are capable of such extraordinary acts. Taking action, being involved and reaching out to other people at their time of need is a healing and growth-promoting process and can serve to immunize against feelings of despair and powerlessness.

We are humbled by the extraordinary courage and grace of the teachers at Sandy Hook Elementary School. In their honor we will build a repository of materials that will not only serve to support students at such difficult times, but also help young people understand how compassion is central to the human experience.

In this section of the website we have posted guidelines, articles and suggestions for lessons and learning activities (see PDF below). We will be adding a bibliography of children’s books and continue to post other materials to this resource list. Please let us know what you need and we will try to find resources that will be helpful. If you have suggestions and activities of your own, please share them with us. You can email us at the For Action Initiative,

> Download the PDF: Children, Loss and Traumatic Events: Resources for Teachers and Families