Message from Superintendent on Israel-Hamas Conflict
Posted on 10/17/2023
Message from the Superintendent graphic image

Dear East Hartford Public Schools Community,

Our worldwide community is often impacted by unexpected challenges that can be hard to explain.  We have supported one another as we have worked through other societal challenges in recent memory.  And now, again, it is very important to acknowledge that conflicts and crises, such as the one in the Middle East involving Israel and Hamas, impact many individuals in some way, but especially our children. The exposure to distressing media images and information can often lead to increased anxiety and emotional grief.

Below are a few important ways we can support our children during difficult times like these:

Monitor and Discuss: As parents, it is essential to be aware of what your children are viewing on social media and engage in open discussions with them. Ask how they are feeling and what questions they may have. It's an opportunity to address their concerns and provide context to help them understand the situation better.

Provide Age-Appropriate Information: Tailor the information shared with children based on their age and maturity level. Avoid sharing graphic or disturbing images with younger children, and provide a simplified explanation of the situation that is appropriate for their understanding.

Limit Exposure: Limit the time your children spend watching or reading about disturbing news. Encourage them to engage in other activities that promote a sense of normalcy and relaxation.

Create Safe Spaces: Create a safe and comforting environment at home where children feel secure and can openly express their emotions. Be available to listen and offer reassurance.

Encourage Empathy and Tolerance: Use these events as opportunities to discuss the importance of empathy, tolerance, and peace. Help your children understand the complexity of global conflicts and the value of peaceful resolutions.

Stay Informed: Both parents and educators should stay informed about the situation themselves. Understanding the context and developments can help in guiding discussions and providing reassurance to children.

Be Culturally Sensitive: Be sensitive to the cultural and family backgrounds of students. Recognize that some students and families may have a personal connection to the events, which can influence their emotional responses.

Seek Professional Help: If you notice that your child is experiencing severe anxiety or distress, consider seeking professional help. Therapists and counselors can provide support and coping strategies.

It is critical that we routinely prioritize the emotional well-being and education of children, but even more in times of crisis and conflict. We must create a supportive and informed environment, both at home and in school, to help children better understand and cope with the impact of current events. Remember that it's natural for children to have questions and concerns about world events, and it's essential to support them as they process these emotions. Open communication, understanding, and providing a sense of security can go a long way in helping children navigate challenging realities that exist in our world.

The well-being of our students, families, colleagues, and school community is of paramount importance.  Therefore, we are sharing the following resources from the Connecticut State Department of Education (CSDE)  that may be helpful in having conversations with students, families, and staff.

How to Talk to Your Children About Conflict and War: This publication from UNICEF offers specific tips for families to support and comfort their children.

Resilience in a time of war: Tips for parents and teachers of elementary school children: This article from the American Psychological Association can help adults effectively navigate these issues with young children.

Resilience in a time of war: Tips for parents and teachers of middle school children: The American Psychological Association provides tips and strategies for parents and teachers of middle school-aged children.

Resources Addressing Trauma, Violence, and Grief in the Aftermath of a Mass Shooting: While many of the resources in this document are specific to mass shootings, it includes many excellent resources to address trauma, crises, and other disasters.

As a reminder, adult and child Mobile Crisis Intervention Services can be accessed by school staff and families by dialing the United Way 2-1-1 Infoline. Additionally, the Department of Children and Families (DCF) has recently launched Urgent Crisis Centers in four locations around Connecticut that are available for families whose children may need additional behavioral health supports.


Thomas Anderson
East Hartford Public Schools