Enlighten Me, Please!
In my 2nd Grader's homework folder I found a note. The note was signed by the principal and talked about the fact that a boy who attends our elementary school lost his mother. It went on to say that the district response team visited the school to meet with the staff and students. They made counselors available for anyone who felt the need. The next paragraph of the note was a the statement which was read by each teacher in each classroom (Kindergarten through Sixth Grade) Below is that statement word for word, except with **** where the child's name was:
"Students I have something very sad to tell you. ***** in fourth grade is in Mrs. ***'s class. He may not be at school for a while. He is staying with his grandparents because his mother died. She died by hanging herself. This kind of death is called suicide. Hearing this could make you feel sad. When people feel sad it helps to be kind to them. This will be a very difficult time for *** when he returns to school."
I asked my 7 yr. old if her teacher had talked to them about a boy in their school whose Mom died. "Yeah, she hung herself," was her response.
I was sort of in shock for a few hours after receiving the note, but as the shock wore off the outrage set in. Why on earth would they have done this? My daughter has no idea who this boy is, why did she and all the Kindergarteners to be told about suicide???? Perhaps the 4th graders could have been told that this little boy's mother died, but did they even need to address the suicide aspect at all? Isn't this unfair to this boy too? Does he really want to come back to school and have everyone know the very private sorrow that happened to him and his family?
Here's the weirdest part. Our principal was advised to have the teachers issue that statement by the district response team. That team supposedly consists of experts in helping children deal with difficult situations. They told a concerned parent that studies show that children do better when we discuss things openly with them. Okay, I agree with that to a degree. When things directly affect a child it is good to take a direct and honest approach. However, doesn't the amount of information vary depending on their age and need to know? I can't conceive of one possible reason my daughter had to be told about a woman hanging herself. I would like to be the one to broach those subjects with her as needed.
So that is my unprofessional and emotional response. Those of you who may have a little more critical distance that I do and especially those of you who have formal training in child psychology or crisis management please enlighten me! Was this really the right way for this situation to be handled?