Herald-Sun editorial: Words of wisdom offer guidance

Dec. 16, 2012 @ 10:30 PM

To offer a few tentative thoughts in the aftermath of the Connecticut school shooting is a daunting undertaking.

Besides the images and heartbreak, outrage and calls for reform have ensued – understandable, to be certain.

One school official in a local community must have felt keen empathy for the families and communities directly affected by Friday’s tragedy. Before moving here, Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools Superintendent Tom Forcella worked as a school superintendent about 20 minutes away from Newtown, the site of the mass shooting.

He promised an examination of safety procedures of Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools and urged district personnel “to be constantly aware of our surroundings and always communicate concerns to building administrators.”

Beyond practical safety concerns, communicating with young people about this event is sure to be on the minds of parents here and everywhere else. “You don’t want to shock or frighten very young children, but it can be a good opportunity to talk to children even if it happened a thousand miles away,” said Duke University Professor Kenneth Dodge, director of the Duke Center for Child and Family Policy. He is a professor of public policy as well as psychology and neuroscience.

Other experts and leaders offered their thoughts to The Herald-Sun’s Wes Platt, in a story undoubtedly echoed by others around the country.

Finding the right tone and right time to talk about such a difficult subject is nearly as important as what is said.

“If there’s a way kids can feel helpful or useful, let them do that,” Dodge said. “Maybe they can write letters to the families in Connecticut or talk about safety programs in their schools.”

Now, with the release of names of the victims, with the vigils of families and community members and well-wishers, we reflect upon the enormity of what has happened. We ask: Why? We wonder at the strength of those close to the victims and their families, and offer what support we can, from whatever remove.