Anxiety and grief services are available in wake of Newtown shooting
As neighboring community members, many in Wilton may experience anxiety and grief in the aftermath of Friday morning's shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown.
Twenty-seven were killed, 18 of which were children, according to the Associated Press. The gunman, identified by state police as Adam Lanza, 20, was a former Newtown resident.
If students need support, mental health staff will be on hand at Wilton schools and tips will be posted on the school website.
Gov. Dannel Malloy has issued a state-wide message that all flags should be set at half-mast.
Congressman Jim Himes released the following statement regarding the school shooting:
“Words cannot express the sadness and horror I feel at the horrendous shootings in Newtown. As father to two young girls, I don't know how life would go on after the murder of my child or one of their teachers. But if community means anything, the children of Sandy Hook Elementary School are our children, as were the children of Columbine, Virginia Tech, and Aurora. I hope and pray that the flood of sympathy and condolences offered to the victims and survivors of this unspeakable crime will ignite the dedication and ingenuity of our nation to end this scourge of violence.”
Kids in Crisis, which offers a 24-hour hotline (203-327-KIDS) for all community members who need support — including providing emotional and therapeutic support for parents, students, and school staff — has assembled a crisis response team and will have crisis counselors and clinicians available to anyone in the community throughout the weekend and into next week.
"Please do not hesitate to reach out to us," said Shari Shapiro, Kids in Crisis executive director. "We are here for you, and together we will get through this horrific atrocity that has shaken Fairfield County, and the nation."
Wilton Youth Services passed along the following information from the Parenting Center, a nonprofit organization in Fort Worth, Texas. The center said it is important to remain calm and collected when speaking with a child regarding a shooting, especially as they are likely to foster the fears and anxiety you evoke in your expression.
The center has released the following guidelines:
"Questions or concerns may come up days, or even weeks, after an event has occurred.
"If your child is under the age of 8, he/she is too young to comprehend horrific events like murder, robberies, terrorism, and war. It is best to keep the news channels turned off so they are not hearing or seeing snippets of confusing information.
"For children ages 8-10, be open to discussing topics like death and murder. Children this age can empathize with victims, and they may feel saddened or fearful for their own safety. Reflect their feelings by saying, "You seem upset by this" and wait for them to share more. Help them learn about the ways your community promotes people's safety.
"Taking action in a positive way often restores a sense of security and power over their negative feelings.
"Pre-teens/teens, whether directly impacted or not, may have strong reactions to these events. It is a good opportunity to discuss their feelings and values and may even spur them to give back to the community in some way."
For help or information on Wilton Youth Services, call 203-834-6241 or email Colleen Fawcett at firstname.lastname@example.org or Margaret Creeth email@example.com.