Talking with Your Children about Tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary


It has been a horrible few days since the shooting of our precious children and adults in Newtown, Connecticut. Every television station, every paper and just about everybody is talking about this act of evil. How do you explain to children what happened when you can’t understand it yourself? How do you tell your children they will be safe at school, when you are feeling uncertain about their safety? How do you make your children feel safe and secure when you are not feeling safe and secure? These are great questions, with only one answer…You are their parent. Here are some tips to how parents can help their children feel whole and secure.


Start with the facts:

  • A horrible tragedy took place but this is extremely rare.
  • Schools are one of the safest places.
  • Teachers and School personnel are trained to keep you safe.
  • It is important to listen to your teacher in times of crisis.

Answer their questions:

  • Never lie to your children, but answer their questions directly, honestly and use developmentally appropriate verbiage when talking to them (depending on their age). Children are naturally ego centric – they need to be reassured of their own safety as they try to make sense of the tragedy.
  • Don’t talk to them the way you would another adult. Short, simple and careful language should be used.
  • Don’t expose children to adult talk and to the news (TV, Internet, Radio etc.).

Act Confident:

  • Remain confident and secure even if you do not feel it. Your children will pick up on your fear. Most of the time if you act like it will be okay, your children will be okay. It is important that we reassure our children that their safety is of the utmost importance and they will be safe at school.
  • Even children as young as 3 can understand from your words, actions, body language, and changes in behavior that something is wrong. Be conscious of the long term message that you are subliminally sending to your children.

Be an Available Parent:

  • Let your child know that you are there for them to talk to about anything. If they have questions answer them directly without drama or detail.
  • Casually check in with your child every day this week, than twice next week, than once a week and then randomly. Some children have delayed reactions from crisis and all children cope differently.
  • If you or your children are having ongoing difficulties please seek professional help.


"Thank you for giving us the opportunity to be included in the KidSafe program. I highly recommend this program to other schools. We hope that we will be given the same opportunity for our Kindergarten and 2nd grade students to be a part of this wonderful program during the 2016-2017 school year."

Mrs. Keelyn Meselsohn 2nd Grade Teacher/Team Leader Tradewinds Elementary School

"The Safe and Smart Series Book My Body Is Special and Belongs To Me is kept in my middle school clinic and has been a tool that has opened many conversations for me between students that have experienced a difficult situation and were unable to talk about it. Through the illustrations and nonjudgmental verbiage the author has allowed kids permission to share their feelings about invasion of their personal space. Thank you so much."

Nurse Connie, PBC School Nurse 6.8.2016

"I'm so grateful that KidSafe has partnered with my daughter's school.  I learned so much in the parent training--how to recognize potential sexual predator behavior; how to quiz my child about what they would do in different scenarios; and how to explain safe and unsafe touch.  In addition, knowing that my daughter is receiving weekly trainings on these topics gives me great peace of mind.  I have confidence that I can reinforce what she is learning in school in order to prevent her from ever being a victim of such a heinous crime.  Thank you KidSafe for your dedication to protecting our communities' most vulnerable citizens."

Christina Kranick

“It was a normal Saturday and I was at the rink with my 7 and 8 year old. My son asked me if he could use the Men’s Restroom by himself.  Without hesitation, my daughter said,  Absolutely not! I was in KidSafe today and you cannot go to the restroom alone.  It is very important that Mommy is with you.. with us.   I was so proud of my little girl!  We are so blessed to have Debbie Miller at our school teaching our children the importance of safety. Many thanks to you all!  Your program and instruction is absolutely amazing.  Keep up the great work!"  

Tara Henley Admissions Assistant, St. Mark’s Episcopal Church and School, Ft. Lauderdale

I am a parent of two Pine Crest children and I attended your program on Monday night. I just wanted to thank you so very much for the very informative seminar. As hard as it was to hear all of those things, it was very needed. We were thrilled that you were able to come and share that very important information with us and our children. So again...thank you.

Elisa Aronberg

Today’s training was awesome! It was very informative. Sally was a very good resource, she motivated us a lot! We want to pass on this information to parents, teachers and students! Thank you for offering workshops like this. These are tools we use to continue serving our children and families.

Participant from Children’s Services Council of Broward Seminar

To Top