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Help kids feel safe during 9-11 anniversary

September 09, 2002|by NANCY S. GRASMICK

As schools prepare for another academic year, teachers and students will not only have the task of getting acquainted with one another, they'll also have the challenge of living through the one-year anniversary of the horrific experience of Sept. 11, 2001.

Some children and teens may show signs they are having difficulty commemorating the events of Sept. 11. Mental health experts tell us that a traumatic event may leave long-lasting effects on some individuals.

For others, these efforts may not surface until sometime after the event that initially caused the trauma. Essentially, no two individuals respond to trauma in the same way.

Children need assurance that they are safe, cared for and able to express what they are thinking and feeling. During this sensitive period, spend more quality time with your child. Take time to talk with your child about the events of Sept. 11.

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The media will be filled with graphic reminders of that horrible day. Monitor your child's exposure to the media.

For several years, the Maryland State Department of Education has provided training and a curriculum resource, "Assignment Media Literacy," to assist educators in teaching young people to be careful, discerning consumers of media. This is available on the department's Web site.

The Department of Education has prepared materials to help parents, teachers and school administrators recognize the signs that a young person may be having trouble dealing with the Sept. 11 tragedy. Also, materials are available to help parents and educators be of help to children and teens as we mark this anniversary.

These are available on the department's Web site at marylandpublicschools.org. If you don't have access to the Internet at home, you can log on at your local public library.

Despite scattered incidents of violence in schools across the country, schools provide a safe place for your child. Every Maryland school system has developed an extensive plan for dealing with emergencies and for providing safe spaces for students.

Talk to your child's principal to find out how you can contribute to keeping your school a safe place where teachers are empowered to teach and students to achieve their highest potential.

Together we can help our children feel safe so they can focus their attention on having the best school year possible.

Nancy Grasmick is superintendent of schools for Maryland.

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