NYC parents, teachers struggle to respond to Newtown tragedy
As children returned to school the first day after a horrific mass shooting at a Connecticut elementary school, parents and educators struggled to grasp the best way to respond.
The city Department of Education, along with the teachers union, the United Federation of Teachers, sent a letter to schools, offering counseling for any students who may seek it.
It also emphasized the difficulty teachers may face in coping and moving forward.
“It is important to offer solace and support to your colleagues so we can be strong enough to take care of our students,” the letter read.
Some parents struggled with talking to their children about the tragedy.
“I didn’t want it to catch her off-guard,” explained Michelle Imbrogno, whose daughter is in the fourth grade. She told her daughter about the shooting Monday morning before school, after an e-mail from the school indicated they might discuss it.
Kate Harrison told her 12-year-old daughter it couldn’t happen at her school because it is harder to get a gun here.
“I hope it is true,” Harrison said. “I couldn’t think of anything else to make her feel safe.”
Parents voice their concerns
Both Harrison and Imbrogno were emphatic about the importance of gun control, while Flanagan brought up the issue of mental health, expressing sympathy for families of children with mental health issues.
“I do feel that if there were better health care — and mental health care, in particular — that this kind of thing would not happen with such alarming frequency,” Flanagan said. “I do think we need to have more awareness of mental health issues and how it affects families.”
Bloomberg lashes out
Parents like Harrison may take solace in Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s fiery response to the tragedy, as the mayor has emphasized the need for gun control multiple times since Friday.
At a press conference yesterday, he once again urged clear and quick action on the issue.
“It should be illegal to have a weapon whose only purpose is to kill large numbers of people,” he said, adding that “bullets whose only purpose is to pierce armored vests” should also be banned. “Those are designed to kill police officers.”
The e-mail suggested ways to “help children feel safe.”
“Although there is no absolute guarantee that something bad will never happen, it is important to understand the difference between the possibility of something happening and the probability that it will affect our school,” the e-mail read.