Message from Dr. Garcia | Monterey Park Tragedy | Mental Health Recources
Subject: Message from Superintendent Garcia | Monterey Park Tragedy | Mental Health Resources
Dear EMCSD Community,
We are deeply saddened to learn about the tragic news out of Monterey Park this morning. Today is Lunar New Year, and what should be a day full of celebrations, comradery, and joy is instead filled with grief and sorrow for many throughout the San Gabriel Valley community.
Many of our students are undoubtedly aware of last night’s incident, and we want to provide discussion topics and resources that are available for you to use if and when discussions with your students take place. If anyone believes their student may need additional mental health support, we encourage you to reach out to your school administrator to help you understand what options are available. You can also visit our website at https://www.emcsd.org/mentalhealthsupports/ for more information on local services.
As a reminder, schools will be closed to all TK through 8th grade students tomorrow for Student Free Day.
Our hearts are with all of those affected by this tragedy, and we will always work to provide the support we can in order for us to collectively heal.
My deepest condolences,
Dr. Maribel Garcia
Break the news: When something happens that will get wide coverage, don’t delay telling your children about what’s happened: It’s much better for the child if you’re the one who tells them. You don’t want them to hear from some other child, a television news report, or the headlines on the front page of a newspaper. You want to be able to convey the facts, however painful, and set the emotional tone.
Take your cues from your child: Invite them to tell you anything they may have heard about the tragedy, and how they feel. Give them ample opportunity to ask questions. You want to be prepared to answer (but not prompt) questions about upsetting details. Your goal is to avoid encouraging frightening fantasies.
Be reassuring: Talking about death is always difficult, but a tragic accident or act of violence is especially tough because of how egocentric children are: they’re likely to focus on whether something like this could happen to them. So it’s important to reassure your child about how unusual this kind of event is, and the safety measures that have been taken to prevent this kind of thing from happening to them. You can also assure him that this kind of tragedy is investigated carefully, to identify causes and help prevent it from happening again. It’s confidence-building for kids to know that we learn from negative experiences.
Help children express their feelings: In your conversation (and subsequent ones) you can suggest ways your child might remember those they have lost: draw pictures or tell stories about things you did together.
Be developmentally appropriate: Don’t volunteer too much information, as this may be overwhelming. Instead, try to answer your child’s questions. Do your best to answer honestly and clearly. It’s okay if you can’t answer everything; being available to your child is what matters. Difficult conversations like this aren’t over in one session; expect to return to the topic as many times as your child needs to come to terms with this experience.
Be available: If your child is upset, just spending time with them may make them feel safer. Children find great comfort in routines, and doing ordinary things together as a family may be the most effective form of healing.
For additional support about talking to your students about violence, please click here.