West Milford Superintendent reaches out after Florida shooting

What to say to your children after horrific news spreads through country

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  • West Milford Superintendent Alex Anemone

  • File photo

By Julie Boyd Cole

— In the wake of another school mass shooting in the United States, this time in South Florida, West Milford School Superintendent Alex Anemone is reaching out to the Highlanders family.

On Wednesday, 17 students and adults were killed and 16 were wounded when an expelled student entered the Florida school and began firing with an AR-15 assault rifle. The horrific incident marked the 18th school shooting in the United States in 2018 and the 239th since 2012, when Sandy Hook Elementary School was terrorized by a gunman.

Anemone sent this statement out today:

Dear WMTPS Community"As you have already heard, yesterday there was another school shooting, this time it was in Parkland, Florida. Please note that if you believe your child is distressed, we have a full complement of trained counselors working in our schools and they are all ready to meet with your child and share essential resources with families.

Psychology Today published an excellent article that will help parents and children cope with these types of situations. The article is entitled, "How to Talk to Kids About Mass Shootings and Attacks" and contains some positive actions we can all take to manage this dreadful situation. Some excerpts are below:

The most important thing is to reassure them that you will take care of them and keep them safe, and that there are many more good people in the world than bad.

For older kids, you could say, “There have always been tragedies that people cope with by having faith, talking, and helping others.”

Reassure them that shootings and attacks are very unlikely to happen to them, their friends, or family.

Ask how they feel about the event and validate their feelings, “It’s OK to be scared and sad, and I feel that way too. But I know we’ll be okay.”

Don’t emphasize your own fears you may have, because kids look to us for reassurance and calmness.

Emphasize the help and sympathy from strangers who care about victims and that people are working hard to keep things like this from happening again.

Talk about how your family can help such as by donating money or time, or sending letters to victims’ families or communities.

Ask if they have any questions (it’s okay not to have all the answers) and say you’d like to talk again whenever they want.

Say it’s good to talk about concerns but there’s a point where it’s better to get away from the topic—when it doesn’t help but just makes us sad, worried, or angry.


Alex Anemone, Ed.D.

Superintendent of Schools"

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