How to talk with kids about school threats and dangers

School Hallway
School Hallway(wcjb)
Published: Dec. 17, 2021 at 5:33 PM CST
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APPLETON Wis. (WBAY) - With school threats on the minds of parents here and nationwide, schools are asking parents to talk with their children about reporting suspicious activity.

“It’s been a tough week for schools,” De Pere Director of Pupil Services Jerry Nicholson said, “and I know sometimes it can be tempting to shy away from tough conversations, but the best way to prevent these things in the future is to talk about them.”

When you see something, say something.

That’s the message schools are trying to drive home to students but say they need parents’ help.

“A trusting conversation helps improve your relationship with your child. It helps improve the relationship with your child and their school,” Officer Robert Ross, a Neenah school resource officer, said. “I think it’s, it’s a relationship building conversation, even though it’s a tough question.”

While starting the conversation may seem hard, Nicholson says it doesn’t need to be.

“I think it’s okay to approach your child first if they’re not bringing it up,” he said. “Start off with a basic simple question. Start by asking your child what they’ve already heard.”

In fact, he says, you don’t even need to have all the answers. Just be ready to listen.

“The more that we listen, the less that we’re talking, the more that they’re filling that time of silence and the more we get an understanding of where they’re at, how they’re navigating the situation and what fears or questions they might have,” Nicholson said.

Ross says many kids are afraid to say something out of fear of what their peers might say.

”I think they’re more scared about the, the social component to it being called, you know, the words we get are narc or snitch or anything like that, basically calling somebody else about it and getting in trouble with their peers,” Ross said.

Driving home that their actions can save lives can be the most powerful point.

Appleton and Kaukauna school districts told us attendance was down Friday, amid non-specific warnings about a school shooting, spread on social media from coast to coast.

”They need to feel safe at school. They’re here to learn. They’re here to, to enjoy themselves, to be social, to be, you know, to grow,” Ross said, “and if they’re caught up in this then it’s going to be a lot harder to happen.”

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