A message from PUSD Interim Superintendent to the community.
By Elizabeth Blanco
Military attacks and human suffering are difficult topics for adults to understand, let alone school-age children. As violent events in Israel and Gaza make headlines, and as the war in Ukraine and the current crisis in Armenia continue to unfold on the news, it is important for parents, caregivers and educators to connect with students, listen to their concerns, and reassure them that they are safe.
Many of our students and staff may be deeply disturbed by current events as well as the recent rise in Anti-Semitic and Islamophobic incidents. Some PUSD families have relatives in the war-torn areas of Israel, Gaza, Ukraine, Armenia, and Artsakh.
Our youngest students may have access to distressing images and misinformation online, on television, and on social media. It is our responsibility as adults to foster a sense of calm and clarity amid the confusion. PUSD would like to share some strategies for talking with your child about war and conflict.
- Find out what your children know and how they feel. Try to shield very young children (age 2-6) from news. If you suspect they know something, check if it’s something that needs further discussion.
- Older children (age 7 – 12) should learn about what’s going on in the world but adults also have a duty to keep them safe from distress.
- Teens are likely all-too-aware of what’s going on but their knowledge may not be complete. Teach them to question their social media sources and talk to a trusted adult.
- In any case, try to listen to your student’s questions, validate their feelings, offer comfort and prepare to have multiple conversations as these complex world events evolve.
Additionally, PUSD offers all students free mental health services from experts at school through a referral process. Individual counseling services are offered through Student Wellness and Support Services. Mental health professionals are available to help students cope with their emotions, manage anxiety, and provide a safe space to express their feelings. Care Solace is another complimentary service available to the PUSD community. To find a mental health care provider who will help you through the challenges you are facing, contact Care Solace at 888-515-0595. We also have Hazel Health, a telehealth option to mental health.
Wellness Rooms are open for students who may need to take a 10-15 minute break, learn and practice self-care strategies, and return to class. They offer safe spaces for students to gather, share stories and connect with other students who share similar struggles.
The following resources were shared by the LA County Office of Education.
- Talking to children about violence: Tips for parents and teachers (NASP)
- Fostering Civil Discourse: How Do We Talk About Issues That Matter (Facing History and Ourselves)
- Teaching Controversial Issues: A Framework for Reflective Practice (Judy Pace)
- Classroom Deliberations (Street Law)
- Talking With Children About War and Violence In the World (Teacher Vision)
- Resources For Educators, Families to Discuss the Events in Israel and Gaza with Students (San Diego County Office of Education)
Social and Emotional Learning Resources
- How to Talk to Kids About Violence, Crime, and War (Common Sense Media)
- Talking to Your Kids About War (VeryWell Family)
- How to Talk to Your Children About Conflict and War (UNICEF)
- Handle with Care: Supporting Young People During Crises (Learning for Justice)
Thank you for your consideration and cooperation in ensuring the wellbeing and safety of all PUSD students.
Elizabeth J. Blanco, Ed.D., PUSD Interim Superintendent.
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