Response to Pittsburgh Shooting
We're all deeply saddened by the terrible tragedy that occurred at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh. Our hearts, thoughts, and prayers are with the families of those who were killed and injured. Just as after the church shooting in South Carolina and the school shootings in Newtown, CT and Parkland, Florida, we once again find ourselves in the challenging position of trying to help our children and ourselves cope when hearing about acts of violence. WJCS mobilized immediately upon finding out about the synagogue shooting, doing what we do best: counseling and comforting our community. Our Jewish Programs staff, in consultation with our Trauma team, has been in close contact with rabbis and other Jewish leaders and has had professionals at synagogues and day schools throughout Westchester and has also been in contact with the Pittsburgh community.
Guidelines for Families in the Wake of a Hate Crime When hearing frightening news, we all struggle with feelings of fear, anxiety, vulnerability, anger, and sadness. As an agency with expertise in trauma and child development, WJCS offers the following recommendations from our mental health professionals:
- Take care of yourself. Stay calm and follow healthy habits. Eating well, sleeping well, and exercising can help you better manage stress and anxiety.
- Reassure your child of his or her safety. Let children know that schools, law enforcement agencies, and government workers are actively working to ensure that all institutions in our area are safe and secure.
- Make time to connect and talk. Sharing your feelings with others--whether it's with family, friends, or a mental health professional--can be very helpful. Be sure that children have the opportunity to share their feelings and be prepared to answer questions in a developmentally appropriate way.
- Observe your family members' emotional states. Monitor their moods as well as sleeping and eating behaviors. Some may be open to articulating their fears while others emotionally disconnect or appear anxious without saying why.
- Limit media exposure. Our 24/7 news cycle can reinforce and exaggerate scary thoughts for both adults and children.
- Maintain normal routines. Following your regular schedule provides comfort and security.
- Spend quality time with loved ones. Schedule some fun activities for yourself as well as with your children.