Understanding World Events

Dealing with crises and teaching about traumatic events

ESR was founded in the early 1980s by educators dedicated to helping students understand the nuclear arms race. As a result, many of ESR’s first publications focused on developmentally appropriate ways of discussing global issues with students. Ever since, teachers have looked to ESR for assistance during times of crisis. We’ve assembled some guides for helping children express themselves, deal with trauma, and build community.

Children who continue to struggle with their thoughts and feelings about stories and images of disasters may turn to trusted adults for help and guidance. ESR is providing links here to a variety of high quality resources to help adults engage in conversations with students and children.

The National Child Traumatic Stress Network (NCTSN) has several links on their website that are appropriate to support children, adolescents, and adults:

This page (PDF), also from the NCTSN, is aimed at adults working with high school students: http://iers.umt.edu/docs/nnctcdocs/ImpactofTrauma-High%20School.pdf

This handout from the National Association of School Psychologists provides guidelines for talking with students and children called “A National Tragedy: Helping Children Cope – Tips for Parents and Teachers”:

The Dougy Center at The National Center for Grieving Children and Families offers this set of recommendations for helping adolescents work through grief and loss:

Other important resources:

ESR developed a guide, “Talking with Children About War and Violence in the World,” that can assist teachers, parents, and other concerned adults to talk with children about tragic events including the recent school shootings.
Talking with Children About War and Violence in the World (PDF)

The National Association of School Psychologists’ paper “Culturally Competent Crisis Response: Information for School Psychologists and Crisis Teams” has more information for school counselors and response teams working in multicultural environments.
Culturally Competent Crisis Response (PDF)

The Crisis Management Institute’s paper “Supporting Youth in Grief” provides suggestions for adults to use with children.
Supporting Youth in Grief (PDF)

The National Education Association (NEA) has developed a comprehensive online School Crisis Guide that can help school teams create comprehensive plans to prepare for emergencies, respond during crises, and recover from crises.
NEA School Crisis Guide (PDF)