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Coping After a School Shooting or Any Trauma

Coping After a School Shooting or Any Trauma


Prevention and Then Critical Intervention after a Trauma at School :

(How to deal with Traumatic Events with Children and Teens including School Shootings 1 before and after )

ps . Students 💙 You can use these ideas too and share with adults and the apps at the bottom are great to have especially after a trauma . You are not alone . 

◽Before a Trauma


◽Give your kids a cell phone and set the phone to speed dial for you, Emergency contacts and 911 . Practice with your children . Also consider buying an extra charger that is always charged in their backpack and check weekly with them that these items are charged.

◽Make certain your child has an ID card and documentation with his or her allergies, any medications they take , address and any other medical info 1st responders would need in their phone under ICE (In Case of Emergency ) and a separate laminated index card permanently in their backpack .

◽Make sure your children know your family safety plan and the family secret word for danger . After traumatic events happen, it is essential to review all your safety plans.

School policy

Even if teachers tell students to turn off phones, never do that . Turn them to silent . Turn ringers and alerts OFF . But don’t make a child who may need valuable seconds to call for help – turn his or her phone off . Change this policy at your schools too after presenting this to school boards.

School policy

Know what disaster and trauma training and policy is at all your children’s school. Ask the tough questions . Find out what fire drill training means at any school and what it includes . Fire drills and training should accompany cheat sheets to send home to parents to discuss with their kids . Support the training from home and school simultaneously. Training should never be just at a high school level . Remember Newtown /Sandy Hook .

School policy

Know what mental health resources are available and how students with mental health challenges are flagged . Ask what training is available for students to look for red flags and report anonymously any issues they see on Utube, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Reddit, etc . The voices and eyes of our children as seen in Parkland, Florida were ignored and yet they spoke up and reported issues .

School Policy

Know what physical steps your school has taken to keep kids safe ⬇

🔸Know the qualifications, physical and crisis intervention training of your “ school resource officer “ (usually a police officer who has a bigger role than just greeting kids these days and checking for illegal drugs).

🔸How easy can an intruder access the school and classrooms ? Has it been tested ? What about release time and lunch breaks when kids are entering or leaving the school in large groups ? This is when the Parkland Florida shooter entered the building to begin killing students.

🔸Does your school have metal detectors ? Why or why not ?

🔸How often are staff trained in crisis intervention for a potential shooter or bomb threat?

🔸How often are students trained and prepared ?

🔸 Is there an anonymous box for teens to place mental health concerns about peers in the school or even better a “ Say Something “ app as Sandy Hook parents have and can share with any school across the nation ?


🔸 Are there teen depression and suicide prevention programs including the teens advocating and reaching out to each other ?

🔸 What background checks are done on employees and how thorough are they ? There are different levels and many schools choose the lowest cost .

🔸Is there parent training available and are parents included in process so they can discuss and reinforce safety steps with children without fear or anxiety ?

School Policy

Ask your school board and school how the school climate and culture helps keep children safe . Both verbal and non-verbal cues and communication can serve to enhance a feeling of safety and inclusion for all . When a student feels isolated or targeted, with underlying mental health issues, we have seen that this can be a ticking time bomb.

◼School Policy

Ask your school board and school administrators how students are taught and encouraged to report kids at risk without hate or judgment but for the sake of his or her safety and well being as well as theirs ?

School policy

Contact school board and ensure therapy / comfort dogs are set up to come to your schools to visit after any loss or traumatic event like a school shooting and offer kids time to grieve and spend time with these amazing animals.

Already comfort dogs have arrived in Parkland, Florida :



◼School Policy

Ask your school administrators what qualifications of school counselors are and what they do each day to prevent a crisis and lead students to appropriate resources and support ? Ask for specific examples not platitudes without using names or violating HIPAA.*




When Trauma Happens like a School Shooting to Our Kids – HOW TO COMFORT OUR KIDS


💛 Be there . The first question all parents ask is , “ what do I say , what do I tell my children ? “

There are no right or wrong words . Just be there, Hold them . Listen more than anything and just allow their words to come to the surface . Children, especially teenagers, may not show their feelings well but they need you . They will remember who was just there …just there for them. Take a day off if you can to be there – just be there in case they need a hug or a cry on your shoulders or just not to feel alone


💛 Know the risk of suicidal ideation is high after a traumatic event especially with teenagers who already are dealing with hormones and trying to find themselves in this challenging world . This is why they need to be wrapped in support and monitored with love, unconditional support and understanding .

💛 Have comfort items available always at home in case of any trauma that may happen to any of of your kids . Life happens even if it is not a school shooting.
After any trauma – children need to be wrapped in care and comfort even our teens who may brush us away and say “ I’m fine – you’re embarrassing me.”

💛 Have comfort foods available and make them for your children during traumatic or upsetting events.

💛 Gather other comfort items at home. Kids love their favorite soft cozy comforters, pillows and blankets washed & smelling good like a big hug . Have them available .

💛 Routines and food leave kids a sense of safety . Keep meal times consistent and snacks in-between .  Treats and surprises they may not usually have in their diet are fine . If they ask why , the answer
is “ Why not – I love you – it makes me feel better about stuff too .” if your family needs help with putting food on the table, there is help locally by calling United Way 211 or 311.
The national number is 1-866-3-HUNGRY .


💛 Pets are extremely important and they help heal .Decades of research has shown how therapeutic animals can be for adults and children.
Consider even getting a rescue dog at the Humane Society if you can manage it financially with care . It gives a child a chance to project his or her feelings on your pet and is a therapeutic distraction .




If you already have a pet, do the grooming yourself today with the kids. Give them a home spa day which will add humor and comfort . Your pets will love the attention too .
If a dog is too much for your family – go get some fish or bird food – spend some time in nature, visit a local zoo, even volunteering at the your local animal shelter – caring for another life .


💛 Keep children from news channels and any tv crime shows. It’s time for a news break unless your children have chosen to grieve by advocating for a better world with changes in mental health and gun sense as the Parkland children have .

Keep kids away from video games especially at this time depicting violence if they are allowed in your home . There have been many studies worldwide regarding the desensitization of our kids due to video games. This also affects reaction times when shots are heard . When we heard what happened in Parkland, my son immediately mentioned how that fits scenarios in Call of Duty and even some of the Tom Clancy games like Rainbow Six Siege.

💛 Soft classical music , music without words that may remind or upset, is comforting in the background of your home and even classrooms . Our brains send signals of comfort and peace with this choice of music. If you are not familiar – iTunes has many choices for relaxation and classical music to download.

💛 Long baths and showers, vanilla and lavender oil sprays for pillows and even pet beds who can sense tension easily help heal . We use lavender spray in just a few drops every day here at our home and with our service and therapy dogs .

💛 Give your child a journal to draw and write in daily whatever they wish and allow privacy . They need a place to vent their feelings . However if they share / be non-judgmental and accepting whether they use profanity or details of fears and sadness .
Please note they must feel safe and secure and not judged . Journals are so important any day for teens . Go together to choose a beautiful one online or at Barnes and Noble .

💛 One word : ROUTINES.
Traumatic events, it is critical for schedules, routines, security and monitoring how your child/ children are coping. They need to know life and comforting events continue and everything is going to be all right . They need to hear the words and feel this in their environment simultaneously.

💛 Art heals – art therapy – arts and crafts even as simple as coloring paper, paint or crayons, black paper with metallic colored pencils to draw feelings helps heal . Consider making a card for victims healing or families experiencing loss (only if children choose). Sit down and draw something too listening to music . Often we parents hand everything to our kids and forget what they would like most but won’t say is for you to make something with them . This is the time just to be a parent. Your mere presence comforts. BE THERE.

💛 Give children time. Allow children time to just feel safe and comforted at home. This is not the time for intrusive questions and making your child tell you “ everything “ .

💛 Check on your kids more than usual. Ask them to leave door slightly open and promise not to intrude . Explain one day when they are a parent – they will understand as you just need to know they are okay .

💛 Stock up on tissues with lotion and hugs.

💛 Keep your child’s comfiest clothes on hand and washed ( buy a computer tee or sweatshirt if manageable that feels like a hug when you are not there)

💛 Please do not force your children to attend vigils,funerals  and memorials . You can light a candle at home and say a prayer if attending does not seem healing to you or your children.

💛 Use scents besides just lavender spray which play a big part in memory and comfort . What are your child’s favorites ? Consider flameless candles and comfort lighting for your children’s rooms .

💛 Spirituality heals and can play a key role here in comfort if you share a faith. Prayer can be comforting even without a faith .

💛 Support those tears and crying whatever the sex of your child . Crying heals. Release of tears leave us feeling better because the “ sad “ hormones in tears are released. Crying together is fine too and not a sign of weakness whether you endured the trauma or are reminded of another trauma or in fear .

💛 Learn and practice mindfulness and meditation together . Sign up for a course together to help deal with emotions and memories .

💛 Try not to cancel activities and sports for too long after a trauma . Sports and extra-curricular activities should not be cancelled more than a day or two . They are needed as the mind and body need comforting and routines . Cancelling them for a few days is fine but the important sense of safety and security is when we recognize life continues and we continue to participate in life .

💛 Soft stuffed animals also bring a smile and comfort for younger – and even older kids.

💛 Do not leave out siblings who sometimes feel forgotten & need comfort too .

💛 Family bonding matters . Start a puzzle you can all work on , a lego project ,and this is a good time for board games and comedies to watch as a family .

💛 Know every child reacts differently to trauma. If you have more than one child. Speak and spend time with them individually and together. Allow them to heal at their own pace. Ask them what helps most to feel better – even the little things and provide this.

💛 Start looking for solid mental health resources in your community – ask your pediatricians whom they refer to – ask parents whom they like . You never know when you may need a competent mental health professional to evaluate your child and make sure he or she is okay. Remember even I as a counselor who had evaluated thousands in my lifetime, cannot trust myself to make any diagnosis or impartial objective decisions about the mental fitness of my child .

💛 Know the🔺RED flags of a child in mental/ emotional distress who needs immediate care and evaluation . Remember suicidal ideation can happen after school trauma like shootings .

⬇If you see any of these red flags : ( it’s good to know these before anything ever happens)

🔺not sleeping well

🔺not eating well / loss of appetite (keep your children hydrated no matter what and consider Boost with your pediatrician’s guidance to supplement. Lack of appetite accompanies trauma so your child just may need close monitoring )

🔺mood swings

🆘🔹speaking about hurting themselves or others

🆘🔹writing or drawing about hurting themselves or others

🔺withdrawal ( with teens – more than usual)

🔺drug/alcohol use

🔺property destruction

🔺feeling out of control

🆘🔹fatalistic / speaking about death a lot or what the point is of going on ( recognize that is
to be expected after a school shooting, or sudden loss, or traumatic event as a child or teen attempts to process what has happened, and where you need to be to talk and discuss what happened if they are ready and willing. If it seems they are not, mental health support is needed from a professional)

🆘🔹 giving away beloved items

🆘🔹talking about not wanting to go on, saying it would just be easier

🆘🔹talking about wanting to go to sleep and just sleeping forever

🆘 🔹talking about taking life or ending it all and telling you HOW

🔺not interacting as usual with friends and/or family especially on cell phones.

🔺pushing away family pet and not wanting to even “ comfort “ pet .

🔺depression that seems to continue without an end in sight

🔺excessive crying ( yet realize that crying is healthy too and releases hormones causing sadness )

🔺any self injurious behavior or “cutting “ on arms and wrists

🔺lack of self-care – things they routinely do to care for themselves

🆘 = This indicates that you should take your child to your local ER for evaluation immediately and know in advance which ER handles psychiatric emergencies best

❤ Share this number with your teens so they know there are counselors they can call too anytime if feeling sad : 1-800-273-8255


💛 Make an effort to stay in touch with other parents of your child’s friends and keep communication lines open in-case your child confides anything serious or vice versa that needs intervention . Maybe even meet as a group asking your kids to look after each other and recognize red flags . Empower your kids ! You may wish to start a Support group for the kids and let them lead this .

💛 Monitor ALL social media with the agreement you will allow freedoms to post as long as they do not bully, but as a parent and usually the one paying for the cell phone bills, sign an agreement early on but especially during traumatic events . Explain this is for safety and security and this is a family safety rule .
And then MONITOR . That is your job as a parent . With teens you need to reiterate you are their parent not their friend . You love them so much that you need to make sure they are safe at all times and you as a parent are doing your job . It’s not easy .

💛 Monitor where your children stay overnight. Have you ever asked what type of guns or if there are any guns at your children’s friends’ homes ? This is not a political question or gun control issue. It is a gun sanity issue and knowing our children are safe when they spend time at school or other environments . Accidents can happen too .

💛 Continue family rituals including any religious ones and if you don’t have any, some ideas:

💚 Family Movie Night with favorite popcorn and drinks

💚 Family Game Night with Make Your Own Ice Cream Sundaes

💚 Family Reading Night (sharing favorite books , reading out loud together) & adding favorite cocoa & cookies

💚 Family Surprise Dinner Night where your family cooks a new recipe together & votes on its success .

💛 Family Style Dining – have your breakfasts and dinners together. Sharing meals together is a time for bonding and comfort, family talks – just being together.

💛 Make your children’s lunches especially during tough times and add their favorites. Most importantly, slip a note into their lunches reminding them you love them , are proud of them,
to have a great day, adding a silly riddle or joke … you can prepare them in advance. No lunches?
Slip the note in their backpacks .

💛 Plant flowers, herbs and growing living things together even giving your children their own plant to choose and care for in their rooms . This is a reminder life continues, plants and flowers continue to grow . (Some children like mine when he lost his father, find it healing to plant a tree in honor of someone they miss and lost .)

💛 Volunteer with your kids anywhere even for an hour . Giving back and making a difference can help heal for a lifetime. At Homefront Hugs , we run stewardship programs for all ages as we find volunteering benefits the volunteer most of all helping develop confidence, creativity ,teamwork and leadership as well as fostering a strong sense of belonging to the human race and one’s own community. Our children need to feel needed and recognize there is such a real difference they themselves can make to help our world become a gentler better place. They can write our politicians too and become active in preventing these traumas in the future if inclined .

💛 Speak to your kids about who in the community keeps them safe besides you . Do they know what a 1st responder is ? Have some honest discussions.  Consider going to thank your local 1st responders with cards, meals and baked goods who often are forgotten when traumatic events occur yet have committed many heroic feats.

💛 Music heals . Get some concert tickets if manageable to go together and add a few friends as music helps heal. Consider helping them join a choir or learn an instrument depending on their interest and age .

💛 Plan a weekend getaway together to just take a break from it all if possible.

💛 Continue to make future plans for vacations and activities and help children look ahead after traumas with small and bigger plans . Help them find their purpose and feel needed and part of future plans .

💛 Reunite loved ones when possible. If there is someone that comforts your child well and always seems to bring a smile like a favorite aunt , former teacher or coach, or beloved grandparent : send for them . Reunions at traumatic times of best friends who moved or relatives they miss can help heal as well .

💛 🇺🇸 For our military families and deployed heroes after a traumatic event, if you are worried and need to get any urgent messages to or from your children – use the Red Cross . The number to reach a Red Cross Communications Specialist , call 1-877-272-7337.💙🇺🇸

💛 Register to Vote and then vote with your conscience – bring your children with you to feel empowered and teach them this is a powerful gift from our veterans as part of our freedoms .

We are so impressed with the Parkland Students who are focusing on registering their peers to vote and also began Parents Promise to Kids … uniting us all – reminding our kids they always come first and we will always vote reflecting they mean more to us than any guns we might own . 


💛 Finally, take care of you. Remember your own emotions and to treat yourself gently. You may begin feeling the heaviness of the traumatic event yourself . Meditate . Take a long bath. Lean on friends and faith .
Get some hugs for you too and even mental health support too so you can be the best for others who need you .

Remember as a parent or caregiver, we are the adults who need to ensure that our children are safe where they are learning and living their lives . We are all in this together from all walks of life . We can make a difference now that is long overdue with how we vote and advocate for gun sanity and real mental health resources/ intervention and follow-up after referrals are done in every community . It’s all on us . We can prepare our families for trauma as in the horrific school shootings across our country, hopefully never having to experience this .  But know those tools above will only strengthen your family and your kids if you need them or just use them to prepare for an emergency .

I hope these tools above will help the Parkland, Florida families who are grieving now for loved ones, classmates, students, coaches and teachers lost due to the shooting at Marjorie Stoneman Douglas High School on Valentine’s Day. We hope they are comforted knowing our country grieves with them and together we will make certain they can heal and together we will never forget . You are in our thoughts, hugs and prayers .  Contact us for any reason if you need support or wish to volunteer with us . You may contact me directly . You are not alone . You are already shining in your strength and passion to make certain this does not happen again to anyone and inspiring all of us to do more .

Sincerely in peace, Shalom.

Alessandra Kellermann
CEO and Founder
Homefront Hugs Foundation, Inc.

Education & Crisis Intervention Specialist
Speaker/ Consultant
Most Important : Parent 💙                             734-330/8203



Resource Links:

A way to give back together :

Operation Pillow Hugs for Parkland



How We Can Help our Littlest Learners in the Wake of Tragedy

Responding to Spiritual Questions and Emotional Needs after Tragedies


Evaluating how well your school is doing:


Red Cross Emergency Communications

Sandy Hook Promise Say Something App

📌Best practices for Safe Schools


Fred Guttenberg, the grieving father of 14-year-old Jaime who was gunned down in her Florida high school, speaks at a vigil. “I sent her to school yesterday. She was supposed to be safe!”


*What is HIPAA ?

*Your Child’s Rights Under HIPAA

The Best Resource on PTSD

Useful Apps for Older Children 

🔸PTSD Coach has 16 coping tools to manage symptoms/prevent them from worsening. Free app download info:

🔸The latest in mental health- the real deal . #Mindfulness #meditation helps reduce stress. Download this app 4 free

Parents Promise to Kids