From my position and experience with ICTG, I was surprised and worried not only by the fact that this happened at all, but additionally by the way the situation was handled and the gaps in preparation that this shooting exposed. Many parents found out about the incident through local media before they heard any direct communication from the school. My own social media feeds were flooded with friends and neighbors discussing their own fears, shock, anger, and questions publicly.
“How could the school let this happen?”
“I never thought this would happen here, I’ve always felt so safe!”
“What do I tell my kids?”
“How do I know my children will be safe in the future?”
“Who would do such a thing?”
The school district has caught up well. Information is available, there have been meetings with school and city officials to answer questions, and mental health counselors were available to students the school day after the incident. However, I am still left with questions of my own....
- Are parents being helped to process this with their children at home?
- How will the day-care employee’s return to work be handled by the school community? What if she is unable to return?
- Are other school employees being offered counseling?
- Are the employees who worked with the accused perpetrator (a teacher in another district) being helped? The students and families in that district who’s trust is equally damaged?
- Are the churches in the area prepared to handle the spiritual questions about God’s providence that are likely to arise from their congregants?
I was so thankful for many of our ICTG resources that I could easily direct people to for help with many of these topics. Tragedy makes us very aware of the circles of community that we are a part of and how the parts affect each other. New depth of relationship is being forged and challenged at every step towards healing between groups that didn’t know they needed each other. ICTG continues to speak into these gaps by providing resources and consultation for those who wish to be prepared for the entire journey of healing should trauma come home.
We are also providing practical help and resources for those who have been caught unawares and are asking, “What do we do now?” There will always be a new “now” question for those who experience trauma. What do we do now...
- Now that arrests have been made?
- Now that students are returning to school?
- Now that the legal process is concluded?
- Now that a year has gone by and we still remember, hurt, have questions?
ICTG desires to come alongside at each stage of the journey, whether it is explaining the trajectory of trauma, how to mourn a tragedy together, how to speak to hurting children, or how congregations can be better prepared next time. These are all topics my local community is currently facing, answers and resources that are needed for good healing to take place.
While I clearly believe in the necessity of ICTG enough to have devoted time and talents to the organization, these last two weeks I have been thankful for its existence as a member of a traumatized community. I have been able to be a better neighbor, friend, and parent as a result of my own training and the resources available to hand to my community. Healing from trauma can bring us together; it does not have to result in the total breakdown of relationships and community. My prayers, heart, and hands are with my community, and my colleagues, as we continue to walk forward, together.