Over the years, our nation's schools have experienced unspeakable tragedies, including the heartbreaking and savage attacks on December 14, 2012 at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut; on February 14, 2018 at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, FL; and on May 24, 2022 at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, TX. To successfully address such tragedies, it is critical that schools build a safe and supportive learning environment that develops students' protective factors before a crisis occurs and maintain and build the learning environment after a crisis has occurred.
This webpage includes a combination of seminal resources released after previous disasters, including mass shootings in Columbine and Newtown, that are still useful, as well as newer ones too. The resources are sorted into three categories: prevention; recovery – both for those who experienced a traumatic event and those who have heard about a traumatic event; and resilience.
Early Warning, Timely Response: A Guide to Safe Schools (product)
Offers research-based practices designed to assist school communities identify these warning signs early and develop prevention, intervention, and crisis response plans.
Effective Social and Emotional Learning Programs: Preschool and Elementary School Edition (website)
Identifies well-designed, evidence-based social and emotional learning programs with potential for broad dissemination to schools across the country. It provides a systematic framework for evaluating the quality of classroom-based social and emotional learning (SEL) programs and shares best practices for district and school teams on how to select and implement social and emotional learning programs.
IES Student Behavior Webpage (website)
Examines the evidence of effectiveness of programs, curricula, and practices whose purpose is to foster positive behavioral outcomes.
Reducing Behavior Problems in the Elementary School Classroom (website)
Provides specific and coherent evidence-based recommendations for use by educators to address the challenge of reducing behavior problems in elementary school classrooms. The guide provides practical, clear information on critical behavior-related topics and is based on the best available evidence, as judged by the panel.
Safeguarding Our Children: An Action Guide (product)
Presents research-based strategies for taking a comprehensive approach to school safety that involve the whole school community.
School Safety and Security (video)
Provides a link to the video entitled, “Active Shooter Preparedness: School Security and Resilience” which is geared towards educators, school resource officers, and school administrators who serve in important roles in safeguarding schools.
School Violence Prevention: Tips for Parents & Educators (website)
Suggests key talking points and developmentally appropriate explanations for parents and educators to use with children of each age group regarding school violence prevention. The resource was developed by the National Association of School Psychologists.
Tips for School Administrators for Reinforcing School Safety (website)
Lists 19 brief facts and tips from the National Association of School Psychologists that adults can provide to prevent violence in schools.
Understanding School Violence (website)
Defines the term “school violence,” explains how big this problem is nationwide, and suggests the Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s technical guide to help communities and states prioritize prevention strategies based on the best available evidence.
Age-Related Reactions to a Traumatic Event (product)
Provides an overview of how children and adolescents may react to a traumatic event, including a natural or human-caused disaster that they experience as traumatic. This resource describes reactions typical within specific age ranges and offers tips for families, doctors, and school personnel to help children and adolescents cope.
Bounce Back Now (app)
Helps people with coping and resilience after a natural disaster or incident of mass violence. Once users have created an account, they can complete regular questionnaires to assess mental health, access education and coping tools, and put together a plan for improving emotional health. There are also parenting tips for helping children and teens in coping with the emotional impacts of a disaster.
Childhood Traumatic Grief: Information for Mental Health Providers (product)
Provides an overview of the grieving process for children and explains childhood traumatic grief for professionals providing services to children. The resource includes signs of traumatic grief and tips for supporting the child in recovery.
Childhood Traumatic Grief: Youth Information Sheet (product)
Describes grief in children and teenagers and explains childhood traumatic grief, which has some different signs and symptoms from other grief. Tips are provided for coping with traumatic grief.
Children and Youth —SAMHSA Disaster Behavioral Health Information Series Installment (product)
Focuses on the reactions and mental health needs of children and youth after a disaster and contains resources from both the child trauma and disaster behavioral health fields. The collection includes an annotated bibliography and a section with helpful links to organizations, agencies, and other resources that address disaster preparedness and response issues surrounding children and youth.
Coping after Mass Violence (product)
Provides information to parents about common reactions to mass violence and self-care tips for those living in communities where an incident of mass violence has taken place. The tip sheet also includes external resources for individuals seeking further support.
Coping with Crisis: Helping Children with Special Needs (product)
Provides tips for school personnel and parents on how to help children with special needs cope with crisis.
Coping with a Disaster or Traumatic Event (product)
Emphasizes the importance of effective coping after a disaster and getting professional help if needed for reactions that are difficult and intense. Links are provided to additional information about managing your emotional health as a survivor and about supporting your children in coping. (in Spanish)
Help Kids Cope (app)
Provides information to help parents and other caregivers, teachers, counselors, and others to talk about disasters with children. The app features tips and checklists to help with disaster preparation; information about how children typically respond to disasters; and links to books, activities, and other resources for children. Developed by the NCTSN and other organizations, the app runs on iPhone, iPad, and iPod Touch, as well as Android devices.
Help in the Times of Crisis or Loss (website)
Provides materials from the National Center for School Crisis and Bereavement and guidance for schools experiencing crisis or loss, as well as resources and guides to prepare to support children in challenging times.
Helping Children Cope After a Traumatic Event (product)
Offers tips from psychiatrists, psychologists, and mental health experts who specialize in crisis situations to help adults understand what to expect, what to do and what to look out for after children have experienced a traumatic event.
Helping Children Cope with Disaster: Multilingual (website)
Explains the emotional responses to disaster or stressful life events, along with recovery, challenges, child-specific trauma responses, and how to cope during the holidays. This Red Cross website offers multilingual guides for taking care of your emotional health and helping children cope with disaster.
Helping School-Age Children with Traumatic Grief: Tips for Caregivers (product)
Explains how school-age children may experience traumatic grief and suggests ways for parents and other caregivers to support them in moving through and coping with this type of grief.
Helping Young Children with Traumatic Grief: Tips for Caregivers (product)
Explains how young children may experience traumatic grief, which can arise after a disaster or other event in which the child lost a loved one. The tip sheet lists ways in which young children may go through and express traumatic grief and offers suggestions for parents and other caregivers to support children in coping.
Helping Your Child Cope With Media Coverage of Disasters: A Fact Sheet for Parents (product)
Explains how media coverage of disasters may affect children and adolescents. It also offers strategies to help parents address these effects, including monitoring and placing limits on consumption of media, explaining disaster coverage, and helping children develop coping skills. (in Spanish)
Helping Youth after Community Trauma: Tips for Educators (product)
Identifies 10 ways youth may react to community traumas such as natural or human-caused disasters and suggests ways for educators to respond to these reactions and support youth in coping. The tip sheet also advises educators to find professional mental health support for youth—and for themselves—as needed.
It's Okay to Remember (video)
Provides information regarding traumatic grief in children, addresses the three main types of trauma reminders, and illustrates how families can experience the pain of loss and then heal. It features physicians and experts in the field and is appropriate for parents and others who care for children.
Lessons Learned from School Crises and Emergencies (product)
Discusses re-traumatization at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University (Virginia Tech) following the 2007 campus shooting of 32 individuals.
Once I Was Very Very Scared (product)
Shares a book for young children introduces several animal characters (e.g., squirrel, turtle, dog) who have gone through traumatic experiences, including disaster trauma, and are experiencing different reactions. It can be used by parents and other important adults in the lives of children to talk about difficult and traumatic experiences and support children in coping. The book is available in several languages other than English.
Parent Guidelines for Helping Youth after the Recent Shooting (product)
Describes how such an event may affect children and teens as well as parents and other caregivers. The tip sheet lists reactions common among people of all ages, offers coping tips for caregivers, and suggests ways for caregivers to support children and youth in talking about and managing their reactions. (in Spanish)
Psychological First Aid: Adults Working with Children and Teens (product)
Describes for parents and other caregivers how disasters may affect children and factors that can shape how children react to disasters. It identifies steps parents and other caregivers can take to support children and teens in coping after a disaster.
Psychological First Aid Operations Guide (website) Provides an evidence-informed approach for assisting children, adolescents, adults, and families in the aftermath of disaster and terrorism.
Psychological First Aid: Parent Tips for Helping School-Age Children after Disasters (product)
Lists reactions children may have to disasters, ways parents can respond helpfully to these reactions, and examples of things parents can do and say to support their school-age children after a disaster. The handout is part of the PFA Field Operations Guide. (in Chinese, in Japanese, in Spanish)
Psychological Impact of the Recent Shooting (product)
Lists reactions people may have to a shooting and related experiences (such as loss of loved ones and disruption of routines). It describes grief reactions, depression, and physical reactions, and it highlights ways to cope effectively with reactions to a shooting.
Resilience and Coping Intervention (RCI) (website)
This intervention can be used to help children and adolescents cope with disasters and other forms of community trauma. RCI is designed for groups of 5 to 10 people and can be delivered in one or several sessions. RCI groups can be implemented in programs based in schools and other settings and led by teachers, counselors, or other professionals who have been trained in the intervention.
Responding to Stressful Events: Helping Children Cope (product)
Contains information on helping children cope after disaster. It highlights common reactions in children in specific age ranges and describes how parents and other caregivers, families, and teachers can provide support. The brochure was developed by the Mental Health Support Network of Canada, a coalition of Canadian associations focused on mental health and stress management.
Responding to Stressful Events: Helping Teens Cope (product)
Advises parents and other caregivers and teachers on how they can support teenagers in coping with disasters. The brochure describes common reactions to disasters in teenagers, ways adults can respond that may be helpful, and activities for teens that may help them in coping.
Tip Sheet for Youth Talking to Journalists After Mass Violence (product)
Describes how talking with journalists may affect youth who have survived an incident of mass violence. It lists the rights that youth and families have (for example, they have the right to ask what the interview questions will be in advance of agreeing to an interview). It also identifies signs that reporters are doing their job well, so that readers know what to expect.
Tips for Parents on Media Coverage (product)
Explains the effects that media coverage of a violent incident may have on children and teens and suggests ways for parents and other caregivers to help children and teens manage reactions to media coverage and the violent event. The tip sheet also includes tips for families with involvement in a violent incident.
Tips for Talking With and Helping Children and Youth Cope After a Disaster or Traumatic Event: A Guide for Parents, Caregivers, and Teachers (product)
Helps parents, other caregivers, and teachers recognize and address problems in children and teens affected by a disaster. The tip sheet describes reactions that are common in young survivors at different ages, as well as how to help children cope with these reactions.
The 3R's of School Crises and Disasters: Readiness, Response, and Recovery (website)
Provides checklist as a guide to determine how well your school is prepared to respond to the immediate and long-term psychological effects on students, their families, and staff after a crisis or disaster.
Addressing the Traumatic Impact of Disaster on Individuals, Families, and Communities (product)
Addresses healing from the trauma induced by a disaster, especially in terms of regaining normalcy and offering and receiving peer support. In addition, focuses on restoring communities with the supports necessary to be sensitive to the recovery from trauma by individuals, children, and families.
Creating Effective Child- and Family-Focused Disaster Behavioral Health Messages on Social Media (tool)
Provides guidance for professionals serving disaster-affected communities, as well as child-serving mental health organizations, in using social media to communicate with the public through all phases of disaster. The toolkit presents an overview of social media platforms; information about developing social media posts; and key communication considerations by phase of disaster, including in the aftermath of disaster and during long-term recovery.
Dealing with a Death in School (product)
Offers guidance on how to address the death of a student or colleague in a timely and supportive manner.
Dealing with the Effects of Trauma: A Self-Help Guide (product)
Provides more in-depth information on recovering from a traumatic event and is geared for those whose reactions may be lingering.
A Guide to Managing Stress in Crisis Response Professions (product)
Aids crisis response workers in stress prevention and management before, during, and after a public health crisis. It describes the stress cycle and common stress reactions and offers tips to promote a positive workplace and to monitor and minimize stress.
Managing Grief after Disaster (product)
Contains information on bereavement, grief, and traumatic grief for mental health and substance use disorder treatment professionals. It also covers complications of bereavement, risk factors for these complications, and treatment of people experiencing bereavement.
Mass Disasters, Trauma, and Loss (product)
Explains stress reactions individuals may experience after a disaster, what they can do to recover, and when they should seek professional help. (in Arabic, in Chinese, in Spanish)
Online Clinical Trainings (training)
Includes descriptions and links to trainings focused on treatments for trauma and posttraumatic stress disorder in children and adults. Treatments for which trainings are provided include trauma-focused cognitive behavioral therapy, cognitive processing therapy, and prolonged exposure.
A Practical Guide for Crisis Response in Our Schools (product)
Conveys critical information to assist schools in responding effectively to “everyday crises” as well as school-based disasters. It is an invaluable resource for administrators, support personnel and faculty.
Psychological First Aid: Tips for Adults (product)
Identifies common reactions in adults who have experienced a disaster, suggests responses, and offers examples of things to do and say to cope with the reaction. These suggestions and examples include a breathing exercise for relaxation, prioritization of responsibilities that feel overwhelming, and tapping into existing relationships for support. (in Spanish)
Psychological First Aid (PFA): Teachers and Educators (product)
Describes how teachers and educators may experience disasters and how PFA can help. PFA is an evidence-informed, modular approach that can be used to assist disaster survivors. The tip sheet offers ideas for teachers to take care of themselves and support others in the school community in coping and healing after disasters.
Recovery From Large-Scale Crises: Guidelines for Crisis Teams and Administrators (product)
Describes what to expect in schools after disasters and other crises and how school crisis teams and administrators can support the school community in coping and recovery. NASP identifies steps administrators and crisis teams can take at different points after the crisis, from immediately after the crisis to more than a year later.
Survivors and Witnesses After Traumatic Events (product)
Provides basic information about common effects of exposure to acts of violence, civil unrest, or terrorism. It identifies steps disaster-affected individuals can take in the immediate aftermath of crisis, common reactions to disasters, and tips for coping and asking for help.
Responding to Victims of Terrorism and Mass Violence Crimes (product)
Provides guidance about crime victims' rights and needs as well as how to assist victims of terrorism and mass violence crime. It provides a comparison of how natural disasters are similar to and different from disasters caused by criminal human behavior and notes the psychological effects of each.
Supplemental Research Bulletin: Children and Disasters (product)
Examines the emotional impact that natural and human-caused disasters have on children and youth. Developed in July 2012, this bulletin examines five recently published research and literature review articles and provides a discussion of the risk factors linked to children’s responses to disaster, protective factors, and resilience. It concludes with suggestions about policy and practice.
The Impact of Disaster and Mass Violence Events on Mental Health (website)
Summarizes research on common reactions to disasters for mental health and substance use disorder treatment professionals. The article identifies common reactions in disaster-affected communities and describes how reactions increase and decrease in communities over time, as well as highlighting risk factors for longer term reactions.
Improving Community Preparedness to Assist Victims of Mass Violence and Domestic Terrorism: Training and Technical Assistance (ICP TTA) Program (website)
Describes the ICP TTA program works to equip U.S. communities to respond effectively to incidents of criminal mass violence and domestic terrorism. The program's website features a resources page (https://icptta.com/resources), which offers vetted resources to help emergency managers, victim service professionals, and others make victim services part of emergency operations plans, as well as a trainings page (https://icptta.com/trainings), which includes freely available trainings to help build local capacity.
Describes how communities typically respond in grief after an incident of mass violence and offers guidance for community leaders in supporting communities through this process. Information and downloadable resources focus on communities remembering tragic events, incident anniversaries, and memorials.
Tips for Survivors of a Disaster or Traumatic Event: Managing Your Stress (product)
Gives stress prevention and management tips for dealing with the effects of a disaster or trauma. It identifies common reactions to disasters and other traumatic events, lists tips to manage and lower stress, and highlights signs of the need for professional support. (in Spanish, in Punjabi)
Tips for Survivors: Coping With Grief After a Disaster or Traumatic Event (product)
Defines and describes grief, discusses ways of coping with grief, and explains complicated or traumatic grief. The tip sheet also offers relevant resources for additional support.
Unexpected Challenges for Communities in the Aftermath of a Mass Violence Incident (product)
Lists some unexpected issues a community may encounter after experiencing a mass violence incident. The document also provides suggested solutions for managing these challenges and prioritizing a community’s safety and recovery.
After a Crisis: How Young Children Heal (product)
Describes how young children may respond to disasters and other crises and suggests ways for parents and other caregivers to support them in coping. The tip sheet uses the word SAFETY as a memory aid for readers, with each category of tips beginning with a letter in the word.
Explaining the News to Our Kids (resource)
Lists tips from Common Sense Media for addressing news and current events with kids, sorted by age range for appropriate responses to help children process upsetting information that may affect them emotionally.
Gun Violence and Mass Shootings: Family Conversations About Current Events (tool)
Discusses recent mass shootings in schools via the Anti-Defamation League and provides families with resources and tools to help them explain these events to their underage children.
Helping Children with Tragic Events in the News (resource)
Offers practical advice from PBS Parents to guide parents following a tragic event to help their children cope with and understand news media.
Helping Your Children Manage Distress in the Aftermath of a Shooting (Spanish) (resource)
Describes how to help your children after school shootings, including tips to talk to your child and watch for signs of anxiety. These tips and strategies from the American Psychologists Association can help you guide your children through times of crisis. If you feel stuck or overwhelmed, you may want to consider talking to someone who can help you.
Mass Violence/Community Violence (product)
Focuses on incidents of mass violence, community violence, and terrorism and their effects. Resources discuss common reactions to incidents of mass violence, tips for coping, and ways to support children and youth in coping.
Parent and Educator Tips for Talking with Children About Violence: Multilingual (tool)
Offers facts and tips from the National Association of School Psychologists about how adults can provide leadership by reassuring students that schools are generally very safe places for children and youth and reiterating what safety measures and student supports are already in place in their schools. This handout is available in 11 different languages.
Talking to Children About the Connecticut Shooting (Spanish) (product)
Provides a Spanish-language resource from the American Federation of Teachers with information from David Schonfeld, MD, Director of the National Center for School Crisis and Bereavement at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center, about how to help adults speak with children about the tragedy in Connecticut.
Talking to Your Children about School Shootings (product)
Provides practical tips from the American Psychological Association for parents who may struggle to talk to their children after a school shooting to help their children feel safe and ease their stress.
Talking to Children about the Shooting (product)
Provides suggestions to parents and other caregivers for talking with their children in ways that help them to make sense of and cope with their reactions to a shooting. The tip sheet also identifies reactions common in children and teens to shooting incidents.
After a School Tragedy...Readiness, Response, Recovery, & Resources (product)
Outlines strategies to assist schools and better support students and their families in the event of a tragedy. Added with this, highlights the significance of extending culturally respondent methods for schools to help students grappling with grief and trauma. It includes a list of related resources too.
Building Student Resilience Toolkit (product)
Provides training materials to strengthen the skills of middle school and junior high school educators for nurturing student resilience during this key developmental stage.
Building Resilience in Children (website)
Helps parents and caregivers build resilience in children, teens, and young adults through guidelines for parents to help their children recognize their abilities and inner resources. Reviews components of resilience (as identified by Dr. Kenneth Ginsburg: Competence, Confidence, Connection, Character, Contribution, Coping, and Control.
Building Resilience in Children in Face of Fear and Tragedy (website)
Provides suggestions for adults to help children and adolescents cope with frightening and tragic events and develop effective resources for dealing with future negative events.
Coping with a School Shooting (website)
Compiles online resources for parents, teachers, and others working with young children about coping with violence and talking to young children about tragedies they learn about in the media. The resource was developed by the National Association for the Education of Young Children.
Federal Resources for Helping Youth Cope after a School Shooting (website)
Provides a list of Federal resources geared toward building resilience after a school shooting.
Resilience Guide for Parents and Teachers (website)
Provides tips for building resilience in pre-school children, elementary school children, middle school children, and teens.
What Factors Foster Resiliency Against Violence? (product)
Defines what resiliency is in students and lists factors that increase resiliency against violence.
When Something Scary Happens (product)
Provides resources from PS Parents using two popular children’s television shows – ‘Arthur’ and ‘Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood’ – to help parents with young children cope in emergencies and other challenging times.
For information and resources on developing emergency management plans and for supporting efforts of local education agencies and institutions of higher education, go to the REMS TA Center.
For information on coping with violence and traumatic events, visit SAMHSA's Trauma and Violence webpage.
For information on building trauma-sensitive schools, visit NCSSLE's Supporting Trauma Recovery webpage.