Any conversation with a student must be developmentally appropriate.
Young children are not able to process the complexities of violence in the same way that adolescents and young adults are prepared to discuss the issue.
Young children often gauge how threatening an event is by adult reactions (i.e., if caregivers act scared and frightened, young children will view the event as scary and frightening). They may be confused by what they hear and may have basic fear responses such as bad dreams, resistance to separate from their parent, and/or crying and clinginess. They respond well to basic assurances by adults.
Older children and teenagers may have more information about an event as they are commonly able to access information independent of adults via the Internet and television.
For these youth, it is important to discuss issues openly, emphasizing the efforts of school and community leaders to provide safe schools. It is also important to emphasize the role that students have in maintaining safe schools by following school safety guidelines (e.g. not providing building access to strangers, reporting strangers on campus, reporting threats to the school safety made by students or community members, etc.), communicating any personal safety concerns to school administrators, and accessing support for emotional needs.