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  • 20 Feb 2023 4:22 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    By Andrea Fleming, High School Counselor, United Nations International School Hanoi

    Recently my 10-year-old daughter asked if she could start listening to the news with me in the mornings as I get ready for school. She told me in class they were studying migration and did I know about the kid who hid in the wheel well of the airplane to get to America and what about the ones from Syria who died when the boat sank? I silently wondered how her teacher was explaining to her and her classmate the inequities in our world today, the violence and crime and war, all whilst racking my brain as to what I should say in that moment. It made me realize that I need to be better prepared to address this issue, not only as a parent, but as a school counselor. 

    Parenting expert, Caroline Knorr, writes: “We know that kids report feeling afraid, angry, or depressed about the news. But in recent years -- prompted by increased terrorist attacks around the world -- researchers are exploring the effects of remote exposure to real violent events. Remote exposure is when kids understand that something traumatic has occurred but haven't experienced it directly. Unsurprisingly, its lingering effects include feelings of grief, trauma, fear, and other mental health concerns. Kids can be deeply affected by images of war-torn countries, bloodied refugee children, and mass graves and need additional help processing them.” She gives great tips on how to explain violence to kids of all ages. For pre-adolescents and pre-teens, besides waiting to see what they know and being honest and direct, she recommends discussing sensationalism in news and media and explaining context and offering perspective, and what gives things meaning and clarity in order to make sense of negative and unpleasant things. For teens she favors assuming they know -- but not assuming their knowledge is complete. She advises to accept their sources, but expand their horizons. And of course to give them hope and to motivate them to contribute to the greater good. 1

    Dr. Hina Talib, an adolescent medicine specialist and pediatrician, says that we need to look out for less obvious signs that kids are nervous about war or violence in the world as some will ask questions but others will worry silently. And Emily W. King, a child psychologist, recommends to take the cues from the child as some will ask out of curiosity not fear. If you are worried that teens are doom-scrolling on a device, encourage them to make smart media choices, Dr. Talib suggested. “Ask them which news sources they are following and why, and what coverage has helped them understand more about the conflict versus made their heart race more.” Point students in the direction of more appropriate news sources such as News-O-Matic and Newsela, as well as sources appropriate for teens, such as NPR and HuffPost Teen. 2

    Amy Morin, an LCSW, has great advice about making sure we adults avoid harmful stereotypes when talking to our students about violence, encourage parents towatch media coverage alongside older kids and teens, and to point out the good people who are helping. 3

    Below are several resources you can use to educate yourself, your teachers, and your parent community regarding how to talk to your students about war, crime, and a violent world. 

  • 28 Sep 2022 9:30 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    by Chrystal Kelly, High School Counselor at The American International School of Muscat, Oman and ISCA Taskforce Member

    The loss of a loved one is difficult for a teenage students to deal with. Be it the loss of a close family member, friend or even a pet, grieving is different for everyone. Several factors influencing how people deal with grief include age, culture, religion, support systems, the circumstances of the death, relationship with the individual they have lost, and previous experiences with death. As a school counselor, it is important to understand what the student needs during this difficult time. It is easiest to do that by meeting with the student and asking what you can do to help. Depending on their needs and responses, here are a few things you can do to help students as they grieve.

    Meet With The Grieving Student

    Some students are ready to talk right away after a loss. As a school counselor, take advantage of the opportunity to connect. Talking about death can be difficult, even for counselors. It is important to make sure you have people you can also consult with after tough meetings. Other students may not want to talk immediately after the loss of a loved one. For these students, allowing them their space and privacy can help. Letting them know you are available as a willing resource when they feel ready to talk about their grief is also a big help. Finally, let your staff become aware of a loss and how to best respond to the student. Remember that many students find resources in their teachers or other trusted adults in school. 

    Provide Information

    As school counselors we know how important it is to provide a variety of resources for students. Each student is unique in how they process their grief. Some students want to talk, some want to read, and many others have questions about the confusion that they feel and want to learn more. Providing students with different genres of books, websites, and tips can be helpful. Students are also often helped by the discussion of “what is normal”? Providing information to students that assures them that all the different ways they are reacting to death is normal will help. Remind students to not judge themselves or others and that comparing one person’s loss to another’s is not helpful. Help students see that each person has the right to express their grief in their own way.

    Facilitating a Grief Support Group

    Grief support groups are a great and rewarding way to help students. Small groups of approximately 6-10 students which typically meet six to eight weeks long for forty to fifty minutes (timing can vary) each week. To start, meet with students to explain what a grief group is, find a location that is conducive to good group dynamics. Remember to have a group plan and purpose for each session, along with a check-in and closure/reflection activity. A grief group can help students (especially teenagers) see that there are others dealing with grief and it becomes less isolating. It becomes a support group for not only grief but other issues and concerns in a student’s life. 

     Here are some examples of grief group topics for an eight-week session:

    • Group 1: Why are you here? Establishing goals and norms and sharing stories.
    • Group 2: Grief support, education, responses. Who are your resources?
    • Group 3: Sharing memories (pictures, mementos, others).
    • Group 4: Art/music therapy-drawing/writing what our losses look and feel like.
    • Group 5: Secondary losses-how do you cope?
    • Group 6: Spirituality/rituals/ceremonies/cultural differences
    • Group 7: Rose/Balloon Ceremony (activity where students can honor, celebrate or acknowledge the loss)
    • Group 8: Closing lunch and next steps. Set a date for a reunion meeting.
    Create A Book Club

    There are many great resources available to help students and families deal with grief and loss. Books are one such resource. How to Survive the Loss of a Love is a great book for helping students deal with feelings of grief and loss. A book club can also be a great way to facilitate grieving for students and families. Find a time after school to either process chapters or the entire book if it is short. Like a grief group, students often find the support that comes from one another very valuable. 

    Referring to outside resources

     Sometimes students need extra support that a school cannot provide. This is when it is essential to understand what resources are available in the country you are in. Are there hospice centers, grief counselors, and others who specialize in helping students and families with these concerns? Helping students find someone that can listen without being judgmental and accepting them as they are is important. Understanding what cultural or religious expectations a student and family have of an outside counselor or therapist is also critical to how you can support them.

    There are many great resources available to help with so many of the above things. Don’t forget to check out the ISCA member website and learn about these resources. It is important that we work together and share our stories so that we can best help our students, families and staff.

    Are you ready to take your counseling skills to the next level? Do you want to connect with like-minded peers across the world? Join ISCA today!

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