Supporting our Students to Process Violence and the Media

by Miryam
Once a month, during our Community Meetings, we hold a moment of silence and reflection where we acknowledge that there is so much happening in the world that brings tears to our eyes or incites anger in our bodies. Just as importantly, we name that what gets covered in the media is narrow and controlled, and we acknowledge that everyone in our community knows about different things that they want to hold in their hearts for a moment.  

In Community Meeting, we use mindful breathing to help regulate the body and mind as the hard feelings are processed. We model and practice this emotional regulation and grounding. We breathe together as a community to remind us that through this healing we are connected. By holding space together as a community and by sharing a collective moment of silence, breath and reflection, we make space for all of us. 

Whether it is the death of Tyre Nichols, a 29-year-old Black man who was beaten by police officers in Memphis, Tennessee, or the mass shootings targeting members of the Monterey Park and Half Moon Bay communities, violence seems to be inescapable in our country and in our newsfeed right now. Christia Spears Brown, a developmental psychologist at the University of Kentucky, states that students are “ interested, but yet there’s gaps in knowledge, and they’re using their own inferences to fill in those gaps.” For this reason, I encourage our students to talk to their teachers and to trusted adults.

“These acts of violence—along with the often lack of accountability—damages trust and affects young people across the United States, prompting parents, caregivers, educators and communities to seek resources on how to address these subjects at home or in the classroom”  (Learning for Justice).

While we hold space for difficult conversations in classrooms and advisories, we also intentionally create space for students to process these questions in their affinity and alliance groups with adults at school to guide them. 

​I encourage you to have a conversation with your student this week and use the following takeaways and resources to guide your discussion.

Some top takeaways:
  • For younger kids, stay calm and emphasize that they’re safe, even if what they’re seeing is scary.
  • For school-age kids, give them a chance to tell you what they saw and ask questions.
  • For teenagers and young adults, discuss appropriate ways to channel their emotions and fight for what they believe in.
  • For kids of all ages, use the opportunity to have an honest, age-appropriate discussion about how these events fit into our history.
Family Resources:
From the National Association of School Psychologists:  Talking to Children About Violence: Tips for Parents and Teachers
Located in the Central District, Seattle Girls' School is an independent school for girls and gender nonconforming students in grades 5-8. Our mission is to inspire and develop courageous leaders who think independently, work collaboratively, learn joyfully, and champion change.