Discussing Lockdowns with Children
For some children, even participating in a drill may cause some emotional distress. This is especially true if it reminds them of a prior crisis event, or if they otherwise are feeling vulnerable or anxious.
As a parent, you are in the best position to help your child cope with trauma they experience during an emergency or safety drill at school. Any conversation with a child must be appropriate for their age and developmental stage.
Young children need brief simple information that should be balanced with reassurance. This includes informing children that their school and home are generally safe and that adults are available to protect them. Young children often gauge how threatening or serious an event is by adult reactions. This is why, for example, parents are encouraged not to get overly emotional when saying goodbye on the first day of school. Young children respond well to simple examples of school safety, like reminding them the exterior doors are locked, just as you lock your doors at home at night.
Upper elementary and early middle school children may be more vocal in asking questions about whether they are truly safe and what is being done at their school. They may need assistance separating reality from fantasy. Parents can share the information they have about the school's safety plan and any other relevant communication to ease their child's mind.
Upper middle school and high school students may have strong and varying opinions about causes of violence in school and society. Parents should stress the role that students have in maintaining safe schools by following the school's safety guidelines (not providing building access to strangers, reporting strangers on campus, reporting threats to school safety made by students or community members, for example).
Below are some resources that are available to help discuss lockdowns with children.