Resources to Help Children and Families Process Mass Violence
Family and community violence, natural disasters, and traumatic life events can have a widespread impact. Child- and family-serving professionals provide crucial support to parents, caregivers, children, and adolescents who experience the effects of trauma in the aftermath of violence.
In the wake of recent tragic events across America, you may be asking yourself: how can I help? How can I help parents and caregivers address tragic events with their children? How can I help children process their trauma in the aftermath of violence?
According to the National Mass Violence Victimization Resource Center (NMVVRC), there are three different definitions of ‘mass violence’ provided by the Federal government. However, the most important thing to remember, irrespective of the definition used, is that each mass violence incident leaves behind numerous victims and survivors who need assistance and support. Even when individuals and families are not directly involved, they can be affected by ongoing media coverage and exposure to disturbing images or a heightened sense of vulnerability in the community. Child- and family-serving professionals provide crucial support to parents, caregivers, children, and adolescents who experience the effects of trauma in the aftermath of violence. Many local and national organizations have developed resources to help guide professionals through these difficult conversations.
National Child Traumatic Stress Network (NCTSN)
The NCTSN has developed an extensive collection of Mass Violence resources (fact sheets, guides, webinars, etc.)—available in both English and Spanish—that explore common reactions children and families may be experiencing after a mass violence event and what they can do to take care of themselves. A sample of resources is included below. This list is not exhaustive; please visit the NCTSN Mass Violence resource library to view all available materials.
- After a Crisis: Helping Young Children Heal
- Age-Related Reactions to a Traumatic Event
- Assisting Parents/Caregivers in Coping with Collective Traumas
- Coping after Mass Violence
- Creating Supportive Environments When Scary Things Happen (En Español)
- Parent Guidelines for Helping Youth After the Recent Shooting(En Español)
- Restoring a Sense of Safety in the Aftermath of a Shooting: Tips for Parents and Professionals
- School Shooting Resources
- Talking to Children When Scary Things Happen (En Español)
- Talking to Teens When Violence Happens
NCTSN also provides information and resources on Psychological First Aid (PFA)—an early intervention to support children, adolescents, adults, and families impacted by traumatic events. PFA resources are available in English and Spanish.
- Handouts from the Psychological First Aid Manual
- PFA Online Training
- Psychological First Aid: Adults Working with Children and Teens
- PFA: Tips for Adults (En Español)
- PFA: Parent Tips for Helping Preschool-Age Children After Disasters
- PFA: Parent Tips for Helping Adolescents
- PFA: Parent Tips for Helping School-Age Children after Disasters (En Español)
National Mass Violence Victimization Resource Center (NMVVRC)
The National Mass Violence Victimization Resource Center (NMVVRC) was established in October of 2017 in partnership with the Office for Victims of Crime (OVC) within the Office of Justice Programs, U.S. Department of Justice. The NMVVRC is composed of a multi-disciplinary team of scholars, researchers, victim assistance professionals, partner organizations, technical experts, and relevant local and national organizations in a multifaceted team that collaborates with OVC. The NMVVRC serves as the source for the best evidence to achieve a social understanding of mass violence upon which civic leaders, mental health professionals, journalists, policymakers, and victim assistance professionals can rely. Utilize NMVVRC’S website to find general information on mass violence as well as specific resources and supports for survivors, victim service professionals & clinicians, and community leaders.
Rady Children’s Hospital-San Diego (RCHSD)
Rady Children’s Hospital-San Diego is the largest children’s hospital on the West Coast, serving San Diego, Imperial, and southern Riverside counties. The RCHSD Health Library includes many resources for children and families, including guides on these specific topics:
- School Violence: What Students Can Do
- How to Talk to Your Children About the News
- Childhood Stress: How Parents Can Help
- Gun Safety
Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration
The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) Disaster Technical Assistance Center (DTAC) provides various resources and useful information for those in the disaster behavioral health field. DTAC helps states, U.S. territories, Tribes, and local providers plan for and respond to mental health and substance use–related needs after a disaster.
- Disaster Behavioral Health Resources
- Disaster Behavioral Health Information Series Resource Center
According to Sesame Workshop, the term “community violence” is used to describe public violence. It may refer to school shootings and acts of terrorism, but it also refers to violence that happens in one’s neighborhood. Parents, caregivers, and providers can use Sesame Workshop’s Community Violence resources and activities to help little ones understand and cope with the effects of violence. The Violence Resources for Providers printable is an excellent quick guide to have on hand and to share with colleagues.
ZERO TO THREE
Family and community violence, natural disasters, and traumatic life events touch the lives of even the youngest children. Even when families are not directly involved, they can be affected by media coverage of frightening images and feel a heightened sense of vulnerability and stress. Online resources provided by ZERO TO THREE help adults meet the unique needs of infants and young children in addressing the effects of trauma in the aftermath of violence. Their Supporting Families: Young Children and Gun Violence page is available in both English and Spanish.
Child psychologist and ZERO TO THREE Board Member Dr. Chandra Gosh Ippen published Once I Was Very, Very Scared to help children and grown-ups (caregivers, teachers, and early childhood professionals) understand how stress can affect children and ways to help them. Watch and share!
National Research Center on Hispanic Children & Families (The Center)
The Center has curated an expansive list of resources from national organizations to help parents, caregivers, and educators support children and youth after a school shooting. Each resource on their list is available in both English and Spanish. Discover resources not yet mentioned in this post.
Free and Confidential Help Lines and Apps
- Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration
- Crisis Text Line: Provides 24/7 support. Simply text HOME to 741741 to connect with a volunteer Crisis Counselor. Text, Chat, and WhatsApp options are available here. (En Español)
- 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline: If you’re thinking about suicide, are worried about a friend or loved one, or would like emotional support, the Lifeline network is available 24/7 across the United States. Call or Text 988; Chat is available online here.
- Child Mind Institute: Going Back to School After a Tragedy
- Youth.Gov: Resources to Help Youth Cope after a Mass Shooting
Extend Your Learning with CalTrin
Visit CalTrin’s Training Archive to access recordings and materials from prior webinars within our Trauma-Informed Systems pillar. These trainings are related to the impacts of trauma on children and adults as well as addressing vicarious trauma often experienced by child- and family-serving professionals.
CalTrin’s Trauma-Informed System learning pillar includes all trainings that are focused on trauma and trauma-related practices, including the design and management of trauma-informed service systems and agencies, addressing the impact of secondary traumatic stress on the workforce, and ensuring that all services are trauma-informed. View upcoming trainings in this pillar.
*Last updated August 18, 2023