Nurturing a School Community: Supporting Each Other Following the Murder of a Pupil
In times of crisis it is crucial for a school community to come together
Our hearts go out to the family, friends and school community in Croydon following yesterday’s heartbreaking news of the death of a 15-year-old girl who was stabbed to death on her way to school.
It’s unimaginable that what may have started out as an ordinary Wednesday morning turned into the unthinkable, and a family was robbed of a daughter, sister, granddaughter, and niece. A school was left without a student, and students were left without a friend.
The murder of a student is incredibly distressing, disturbing, shocking and challenging for any school community. This is not something we’re used to dealing with in this country.
Such an event can have profound emotional, psychological, and social impacts on students, teachers, staff, and parents. There could be sounds and scenes that will play out multiple times in the minds of those who witnessed the murder.
In times of crisis like this, it is crucial for the school community to come together and provide support to those affected. Here are some recommended steps:
Prioritise Open Communication
Maintaining open lines of communication is essential. School staff should actively encourage dialogue, ensuring that everyone feels safe expressing their emotions, concerns, and thoughts. Regular updates and transparent information sharing can help alleviate anxiety and foster a sense of unity within the community.
Establish Support Networks
Create safe spaces for students, staff, and parents to gather and share their grief. Setting up support networks, such as professional grief specialists, support groups, or even virtual platforms, can provide individuals with a comforting environment to express their emotions and seek solace in one another. Ensure trained grief professionals are available to provide specialised support and guidance.
Foster Empathy and Compassion
Organising events that allow individuals to honour the memory of the lost pupil, such as memorial services, candlelight vigils, or creative projects like art exhibitions or writing compilations to express emotions will enable the community to support one another.
Parents play a crucial role in supporting their children and the wider school community during such challenging times. Encourage parents to talk to their children, offering a listening ear and providing reassurance. Additionally, organising parent support groups or workshops facilitated by grief professionals can equip parents with the tools and knowledge to support their children effectively.
Acting Out Behaviours
Teenagers may feel pressure to appear independent and in control. Their responses may seem grown up and they may present as being fine, and then they might behave selfishly or insensitively, or behave recklessly. They may display a reduced ability to concentrate, a lack of, or too much sleep, lashing out, anxiety, isolation, irritability, put on a brave front, have a different relationship with food or alcohol, or display sudden changes in behaviour.
Providing opportunities for them to talk to you will help them express their feelings. Revisit these conversations regularly, so they have an outlet for their feelings.
Sustained Support and Long-Term Healing
Recognise that support should extend beyond the immediate aftermath. Consider implementing long-term initiatives such as ongoing grief support, a memorial trophy, or commemorative events to ensure the memory of the pupil lives on while continuing to support the healing process for the entire school community.
For further support and information, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Paul Butler is an Emotional Vulnerability Coach, working with students, teenagers and adults, helping them build sustainable mental wellness and learning the tools to be emotionally vulnerable, learning how to heal grieving hearts and lighten the weight that loss can have on us throughout life. You can find out more about Paul here.