Peel School Board lowers flag and expresses support for those affected by Pakistan’s school tragedy
Canadians and people all over the world are expressing shock as the Pakistani city of Peshawar began burying its dead after an attack at a school that killed at least 132 children and nine staff. Emotional scenes were reported by Pakistani and International media, with reactions from world leaders deploring this act.
Prime Minister of Canada tweeted:
Canada stands w/ the people of Pakistan in the wake of this horrific act of violence against children whose only crime was going to school.
— Stephen Harper (@pmharper) December 16, 2014
Peel District School Board’s Director of Education Tony Pontes released the following statement this afternoon:
“We were all shocked and saddened by the tragic events that transpired at Army Public School in Peshawar, Pakistan, today. Our thoughts are with all those affected, and we acknowledge the bravery of everyone who reacted immediately to protect the children and staff. Our flags will be lowered to halfmast, in an expression of support, until the end of the day on Dec. 19.
Although events like this are extremely rare, we recognize the impact they can have on each of us—our children, staff, families and friends. Individuals react to situations like this in various ways. We may feel sadness, grief, helplessness, anxiety and anger. Whatever you feel is okay. Our social work team has prepared some tips to help you support your children and family at this time:
- Recognize that children may become concerned that something bad will happen to themselves, family or friends. Explain that safety measures are in place and reassure them that you and other adults will take care of them.
- If your child is not focused on the tragedy, do not dwell on it. Try to avoid having detailed adult conversations regarding the tragedy in front of children. However, be available to answer questions to the best of your ability. Young children may not be able to express themselves verbally. Pay attention to changes in their behaviour or social interactions.
- Limit exposure to media coverage. Images of a disaster or crisis can become overwhelming, especially if watched repetitively. Young children in particular may not be able to distinguish between images on television and their personal reality. Older children may choose to watch the news—be available to discuss what they see and to help put it into perspective.
- Maintain normal family routines as much as possible. Routine family activities, classes and friends can help children feel more secure.
- Be aware of your own needs. Don’t ignore your own feelings of anxiety, grief and anger. Talking to friends, family members, faith leaders and mental health counsellors can help. Let your children know you are sad. You will be better able to support them if you can express your own emotions in a productive manner.
- As always, our top priority is the safety and well-being of each of our students—your children. This is a responsibility we take very seriously. It’s important for you to know help is available through our schools. If you are concerned about your child or feel he or she needs additional support, and you would like to speak with a social worker or psychoeducational consultant, please contact your principal or vice-principal.
With the holiday season and winter break upon us, I hope you will have many opportunities to participate in and appreciate family life. There is no gift more precious than time spent with loved ones”