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Talking to Your Children About Acts of Violence

I moved to Marin County (San Rafael, CA) about six months ago. It is astonishing the connections one can make in such a community. There is not a time where I have gone to San Rafael or Novato where my friends stop to say hi to someone they know - it's inevitible.

In this unfortunate case, a member of our community, the city of Novato, and a Y participant, has been taken by the tragic events that occurred in Las Vegas this past Sunday. It hits so close to home that we feel the need to forward a message NUSD (Novato Unified School District) sent out to families today, October 3. We believe the entire community, Bay Area, and nation, should know how to cope and support our children, friends and family.

Letter Sent Home with Students

Dear Students, Family, Staff and Community,

We are heartbroken by the senseless act of violence that occurred in Las Vegas Sunday night. This tragic event has affected us here in Novato with the loss of one of our own community members, Stacee Etcheber, mother of two, local hairdresser, and active in our schools.  

Our hearts go out to Stacee's husband and their two children who attend San Ramon Elementary and Sinaloa Middle School, as well as to all the other victims and their loved ones. This is a time when we will come together and model compassion, support, and unity in our community.

Tragedies like these have a tremendous impact on each of our lives and leave us shaken and questioning where we can truly be safe. There are no easy answers to that question. But if we all strive to create a more loving world where violence is never accepted and where we always try to find peaceful resolution to our problems, maybe we can move past this kind of incident and create a better place for our children.  In the midst of these tragedies stories always emerge of the bravery and courage from everyday citizens, and of those who protected each other, helped the wounded, and provided comfort to the survivors. The strength of the human spirit and  love and caring always shines through in these difficult times and helps sustain us.

NUSD counselors along with our counseling partners are at both San Ramon Elementary and Sinaloa Middle School to provide support to any students or staff who need it.  As we seek out ways to talk with our own kids and help them make meaning out to this horrible event that falls on the heels of the earthquakes in Mexico, and the hurricanes that have left devastation across the country, we offer the following resources:

What does talking to children about violence that look like? Below are some tips that we use to support our students:

  1. Reassure children that they are safe.

  2. Make time to talk. Stick to facts, not rumors.

  3. Keep explanations developmentally appropriate.

  4. Review safety procedures.

  5. Observe children's emotional state.

  6. Limit television and social media viewing of these events.

  7. Maintain a normal routine.

In times like these, we are so  grateful to live in Novato, which  is a tight-knit community with a long history of collaboration, support and love for one another. In the wake of this calamity, we hope we can draw closer together as a school district and a city, and support the Etcheber family and one another.

With love and appreciation,

Amanda Langford, Principal at San Ramon Elementary
Jim Larson, Principal at Sinaloa Middle School
Jim Hogeboom, NUSD Superintendent