Connecticut Commission on Children: An Agency of the Connecticut General Assembly
The Connecticut Commission on Children
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Hartford, Connecticut 06106-1591

Phone: (860) 240-0290  | Fax: (860) 240-0248 | E-mail

Helping children and adults cope with events like the Newtown school shootings

Green ribbon to remember the fallen students and teachers of Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, ConnecticutUpdated: December 2013

As the scope of what happened in Newtown became clear, it also became clear that families throughout Connecticut would have to deal with unprecedented shock and horror over the crime. That's why the Commission has prepared this resource center. Here, you'll find expert advice and information that can help children and adults alike.

The contents of this page will change over time, so check back periodically. If you have suggestions for additional resources, please send them along. News media inquiries should be directed to Communications Director Kevin Flood, at 860.240.0018 or

View a Spanish translation of this page:
"Ayudando a niños y adultos enfrentarse a eventos trágicos como el ataque en Newtown"

Crisis doctor advises adults on how to talk with children about the Newtown school shootings

By David Schonfeld, MD
Director, National Center for School Crisis and Bereavement

SchonfeldEditor's note: Dr. Schonfeld wrote this for the Commission immediately after the shootings. His experience includes helping the residents of Aurora, Colorado in the aftermath of the July 2012 mass shooting inside a movie theater there. He is also pediatrician-in-chief at St. Christopher's Hospital for Children in Philadelphia.

As the nation watches the reports about the recent Connecticut school shooting, many people may find themselves feeling anxious, worried, saddened or otherwise concerned. While adults may know how to express these feelings,often they do not know how to talk with children about the way the children are feeling.

Talk about the event with your child. Silence isn’t comforting in crisis situations and suggests that what has occurred is too horrible to even speak of. Continued

A letter to parents and teachers on the one-year anniversary of the Newtown shootings

By Elaine Zimmerman
Executive Director
Connecticut Commission on Children

December 13, 2013

Dear parents and teachers:

As the anniversary of the Newtown massacre arrives it seems closer to us than 12 months in time. The disaster took its toll on the lives of children, teachers, school leaders, and parents throughout Connecticut. A mother and son are also gone, buried with many unanswered questions. 12/14 will forever be a tragedy that slammed into one town with no preparation or explanation. Seconds changed all of our lives.

We feel the impact of this anniversary. Images have saturated the media for days now. Discussions take place without regard to younger listeners who will ask questions. And somehow this anniversary will arrive in dreams, memory, and collective discourse. If the children in your life raise questions, here are a few things to remember: Continued

Additional resources for parents
Additional resources for educators
Need to speak to someone immediately?
Books on trauma and loss, for children and adults
For those seeking to volunteer to help the families of Newtown
wreaths and flowers at Newtown

A makeshift memorial at the Reed Intermediate School in Newtown.

Need to speak to someone immediately?

There are plenty of people ready to listen, including:
  • Emergency Mobile Psychiatric Services, a mobile crisis line for children and youth. Dial 2-1-1 and press 1 to reach a crisis call specialist who can connect you directly to a mental health clinician in your area. This service is provided by the United Way.
  • A crisis intervention team for members of the Newtown community, at 203-270-4283.
  • The Disaster Distress Helpline of the federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. SAMHSA describes this as the nation’s first hotline dedicated to providing disaster crisis counseling. Call 1-800-985-5990 or text ‘TalkWithUs’ to 66746.

Additional Resources for Parents

Visit the home pages of the organizations cited above for still more information.

Additional Resources for Educators

The articles listed in the parents section above may also be useful to educators. Visit the home pages of these organizations for still more information: 

American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry

American Psychological Association

Jenna Druck Center

National Alliance for Grieving Children

National Association of School Psychologists

National Center for School Crisis and Bereavement, at Cincinnati Children's Hospital

National Child Traumatic Stress Network

Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), an agency of the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services

Books on trauma and loss, for children and adults

That Summer, by Tony Johnston
A boy has to cope with the fact that his brother is slowly dying.

When Dinosaurs Die, by Laurie Krasny Brown & Marc Brown
Child-centered explanations about understanding death

I Remember Miss Perry, by Pat Brisson
Children remember a teacher who died in a car accident.

, by andra patel
Written after September 11, a book about how to deal with bad things that happen.

A Story for Hippo, by Simon Puttock & Alison Bartlett
Monkey grieves for his dead friend, Hippo.

Children Also Grieve, by Linda Goldman
Shows how parents can get children to talk about their grief when somebody dies

What's Heaven? by Maria Shriver
What parents can say to their children after a loved one dies.

Guiding Your Child Through Grief, by Mary Ann & James Emswiler
An advice book for adults.

Chester Raccoon and the Acorn Full of Memories, by Audrey Penn
A mother raccoon comforts her child after her learns his best friend won't be returning to school.

This page was last updated: January 15, 2014

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