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The staff at Youth Eastside Services is saddened by the news today of a school shooting in Marysville, and we offer our condolences to the families of the victims. This is heartbreaking news for adults; it is even more unfathomable and frightening for children.
So how do we help our kids cope? As parents, we may not be able to protect our children from crisis, but we can react in a way that prevents it from causing undue stress. When disaster or violence hits the news, we sometimes want to hold our kids closer. But it's important to let them go about their usual activities.
When kids hear a story like this, they often have fears about whether it will happen to them. Talk with them honestly about what happened, but don't overly focus on it. Sometimes fear can be allayed in older children by helping them plan what they would do to stay safe if they were caught in a dangerous situation.
Here are some other tips for helping kids:
- Encourage children to talk about their feelings. Ask what they have seen or heard and if there's anything they're worried about. Then give them only as much information as you feel they need, and let their responses guide you.
- Let your children know their fears and emotions are okay by acknowledging their feelings while providing reassurance. Don’t minimize their concerns by telling them not to worry, especially since any subsequent incident will diminish that line of logic.
- During the heat of the crisis, keep the news off when your kids are in ear shot and try not to bring it up excessively. Even young kids absorb more than you realize, even when they don't appear to be paying attention.
- Use the news as a teachable moment when you can share your family values. For instance, you might point out the importance of helping those who are unable to help themselves.
- With older children, use the news to discuss tough issues raised in these stories, like accepting people from different religions or cultures.
It's important to remember that as scary as a random act of violence can be, more kids are harmed by guns in the home. Figures gathered from emergency rooms across the US show that around 20,000 children are injured by firearms each year, and 900 incidents are fatal.
If you own a gun, this is an ideal time for a safety check: keep it locked, out of reach of kids, and unloaded. But even if you don't own a gun, remember your child may still play at a home that has guns, or be exposed to a gun if someone brings it to school or the park.
Tell your children that if another child shows them a gun or they see an adult other than a police officer or soldier with a gun in a public setting, they should absolutely tell you or another adult immediately. If they are alone and have a cell phone, instruct them to dial 9-1-1. Assure them that they won't be in trouble, and that it could help avoid someone getting hurt or killed.
Meet Irma, a 17-year-old high school student and YES client.
In the fall of 2013, Irma was referred to YES by her school counselor. Her anxiety and anger management issues strained her friendships and school was chaotic because of her outbursts.
"Before I came to YES I was always angry and didn't feel happy," says Irma. "I couldn't maintain my friendships. At home, I was always fighting with my mom."
Irma started weekly sessions with her YES counselor and made remarkable progress toward managing her issues. "Everyone at YES is friendly and welcoming and my counselor is fun and very supportive."
Just one year later Irma has good friends, is getting better grades and has improved her relationship with her parents. She is even able to hold a part-time job, an accomplishment that would not have been at all possible 12 months ago.
Irma's mom says, "Irma has made a lot of progress -- at home, at school and at work. We are getting along so much better. She's even teaching me techniques she's learned!"
"I'm happy," says Irma. "I have friends and people to sit with at lunch. All thanks to my counselor and YES."
YES helps youth like Irma overcome their challenges through one-to-one counseling, group support and mentorship. You can help, too.
Get involved today:
1. Become a youth mentor.
2. Select Youth Eastside Services during your workplace giving campaign or donate now
3. Schedule a tour to learn more.
or call 425.747.4937 for information.
Volunteers lighten our load
Thank you to the volunteers from Clarisonic, who spent a day in June at YES assembling fun kits for our Summer Explorers program and making thank you calls to donors. We truly appreciate this extra help on projects we don't have the staff capacity to do efficiently.
If your company is looking for group volunteer opportunities, please email
or call 425.586.2326.
Thank you to the Giving Chicks
, a Kirkland-based group of philanthropic women (and a few "roosters")for choosing YES as its charity of the month for May. The $1000 donation will go toward our Summer Explorers program, which provides fun and therapeutic experiences for youth ages 10 to 14.
If your group has a similar monthly giving opportunity, please email or call 425.582.2326.
About Youth Eastside Services
And what we do for kids & families on the Eastside
YES is a nonprofit organization and one of the largest providers of youth & family counseling and substance abuse treatment services in the Puget Sound Region. Our staff are trained and experienced in working with youth and offer a depth of expertise that is hard to surpass. They use proven, evidenced-based and best-practice approaches to help youth become healthy, confident and self-reliant and families to become strong, supportive and loving. We offer comprehensive mental health and substance abuse treatment, prevention and education programs, as well as wrap-around services to help families with basic needs when necessary.
Our services are available in multiple locations around the Eastside and we enjoy partnerships with many nonprofit and government agencies. Since 1968, Youth Eastside Services has been a lifeline for kids and families in East King County, helping to save lives.
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