Once again a terrorist attack has occurred. This time, a significant one in France: 129 individuals were killed and 352 were wounded, with many of the wounded still in serious physical condition. Three different terrorist groups with an arsenal of weapons opened fire in public areas at a theater, a stadium, and two restaurants. Ripples are being felt all over the world, as there is a compelling response to ISIS who has openly claimed this attack as theirs.
Cities across the world went on alert
I happened to be in New York City when this happened and it put the entire city on alert. In some of the public venues bags, totes, and pocketbooks were being checked before anyone could enter.
Although minimal direct threats were made to our country, it was a time of hypervigilance for the U.S. and so many others. I visited the 911 site as a part of my trip. It was a sober reminder of how the world completely changed on that September day. I walked through Manhattan wondering what could be just around the corner for our citizens. Bombs, shootings, chaos and militant forces striving to protect us?
I recognize numerous counter-terrorism efforts to protect us are going on behind the scenes, but there is such an undercurrent of impending attack in our dangerous world of terrorism I think we all intuitively sense.
A state of hypervigilance
Consider that we have been writing a lot about how the brains of our children function and influence behavior. We have been featuring programs that deal with students whose brains are dysregulated, and we are using brain-based techniques as therapeutic interventions for children and teenagers. These posts clearly show trends important to note.
A deep concern is the level of fear and hypervigilance our children feel from their homes, schools and community.
No longer is community-terror a specific event. Rather, now it includes a possible attack from another country in public places like restaurants, stadiums and theatres, once thought of as safe. I think this potential threat adds a whole possible other dimension of being trauma-impacted for all of us but particularly for our children. I find it disturbing that we cannot guarantee safety for our children in our own communities but that they also have to hear stories and see the images of mayhem witnessed from the attack in France.
As a global community…
We certainly wish all those impacted with the loss of family members and those who are assisting wounded families our thoughts and prayers. This is a tragedy no one deserves. It is not only tremendously upsetting to those impacted, but all of us who value human life, peace and our children. Our support and prayers are needed to help these individuals cope with a countrywide trauma.
Secondly, I think we need to be sensitive to our children as they, too, process this terroristic information. It is a confusing world, one where it appears violence against so many innocent people feels very unjust and frightening. Our children also see the graphic images from news stories. This information can cause them stress and fear. It may cause them to question the lack of safety in the world in which they live.
It is an important topic to discuss with them as matters in a confusing world can be so complex to understand. I urge each of us to carefully listen to our children and help them process all that is going on in our world in a way that they too can understand.
We should also assure our home and school environments are safe. It is imperative our children feel a sense of protection when with their caregivers and teachers. In this troubled world, our students need protection and assurance from those who care most for them.
Gerry Vassar, President/CEO, Lakeside Educational Network