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Term 1, Week 7 (Monday 18 March) 2019

Helping our children through trauma

This morning we gathered our Year 4 - 8 children together to acknowledge that what happened in Christchurch on Friday has impacted on all of us. We sang together about love and peace (Te Aroha). We listened to the words of Rise Up, and bowed our heads for a minute of silence to remember and honour those who have died. Follow this link to our assembly slides.

During this assembly we reminded our children that we are not helpless and that we don't need to hide away or be afraid. This is the time for us to stand up strong in who we are, and live our values.

  • Respect / Manaaki

Accepting others and being kind to everyone

  • Responsibility / Takohanga

Looking after those who need help

  • Risilience / Manawaroa

Carry on with our shoulders back and our chins up!

  • Resourceful

Use our resources to help others (coin trail, sign a card)

Tomorrow we invite children to bring a coin to add to our coin trail. We'll donate the money we received from this to our local mosque to add to their fundraising efforts. We'll also make a card to send with our donation, and invite all of our children to sign it. In a few weeks we plan to hold a special day to focus on peace and kindness, and what we can do to make our school, city and country a safe and lovely place for all of us. For now we will support children by maintaining the familiar routines of school and answering their questions as best we can.

Sometimes an incident such as what has happened in Christchurch can resurface memories and feelings related to other events, and this can be difficult to cope with. If you or your children need help to cope with this (or any other) event, please get in touch with us at school and we will do our best to help you find the support you need.

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What do we do next?

For many of us, this is the closest we've ever been to a terrorist attack. All of us have been confronted with the grizzly reality that these things can and have happened here. Our collective grief and shock are evident in the messages shared across social media and in our attendance at vigils around the country. Our response is what matters now.

We have in our own community families who have come to New Zealand to escape exactly this type of hatred and violence. These events will be particularly traumatic for them and this is our time to stand alongside them to show our love and give our support. There are many ways that we can act,

  • Donate to support victims' families

  • Smile, say hello, and get to know our neighbours - especially those who have have come from other countries or those who are from different cultural backgrounds

  • Invite a classmate to your house for a playdate

  • Notice and talk to your children about instances of casual racism - make your views and opinions clear to your children

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How to talk to children about traumatic events

It can be hard to know how to talk to children about terrorism and trauma. I'm including here a list of resources, written specifically with children in mind, about how to cope and how to help in the coming days.

Dr Saab Johal, a clinical psychologist who specialises in disaster and mental health from Massey University offers the following advice

* Give children as much information as they ask for.

* Stay aware of things they might see or hear.

* Tell children they're safe and that people are helping keep them safe.

* Don't shy away from telling them people have been hurt and killed.

* Remember to talk about feelings as much as facts.

* Find a space to process their own feelings, if they're struggling they should get help.

* Understand teenagers will want to be with their peers and parents should encourage that.

* Let children help; find avenues where they can contribute.

* Remember children and teenagers' reactions may be delayed.

He also points out that repeated exposure to video and audio content could increase anxiety - so turn it off when your young children are around.

Read more in this Stuff article.

More links...

Helping children deal with trauma - Ministry of Health website


Oranga Tamariki's website


Children's Commissioner NZ Facebook page






phone numbers to call for help at any time

Where to find help and support:

  • Need to Talk? - Call or text 1737

  • Lifeline - 0800 543 354 or (09) 5222 999 within Auckland

  • Youthline - 0800 376 633, text 234, email talk@youthline.co.nz or online chat

  • Samaritans - 0800 726 666

  • Depression Helpline - 0800 111 757

  • Suicide Crisis Helpline - 0508 828 865 (0508 TAUTOKO)

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