On the podcast: Talking with kids about school violence and trauma

We've released a new podcast episode this week: In the wake of the horrific school shooting in Florida in February, the nation's attention has shifted to the issue of school safety. But how do parents and educators reassure children after traumatic events? This week, we sat down with two experts: Dr. Jamie Howard of the Child Mind Institute, and Julie Ballew, a fifth grade teacher from Houston, Texas, to get their advice.

Dr. Howard explained some of the physiological symptoms of trauma. For example, the brains of children who experience chronic stress or trauma actually appear atrophied when compared with kids who have not experienced stress or trauma. And she offers advice on how parents and educators can appropriately talk to students of every age about scary news. For young children, she says, the adults in their life are godlike, so the emphasis should be on the fact that they are safe. For older kids, especially teenagers, the focus should shift to what they can do in an emergency situation or if they recognize that someone is in trouble. 

Later in the episode, we talk with Julie Ballew, who inspired her classroom to "rise up" after Hurricane Harvey devastated their community. Julie was blown away by her students' desire to help others — something Dr. Howard describes as post-traumatic growth. Julie says, "When the tragedy was so fresh . . . they were able to talk about how it's our responsibility to rise up and find somebody who has it worse than we do and help them."

Pop in your headphones and give this episode a listen here (or find us and subscribe on your favorite podcast app!).