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Trauma Resources for Ministry with Families

There are times when traumatic events impact our life in tragic ways. Violence, accidents, natural disasters, etc. These resources have been compiled for use in congregations, homes, and ministries of the church. There are resources that are appropriate for younger children through youth. Some of the links come from a faith/pastoral care perspective, others are from a trauma or school perspective. Some are to equip parents/caregivers with how to have a hard conversation with their child/youth. Others may be helpful to watch or read with a child/youth. 

Excerpts from Trauma Resources for Ministry with Children and Families

Pray for the victims. Simple prayers like: Dear God, help and bless the people who were harmed. Guard them all with your care. Amen.

Discuss openly with children and youth what your family/congregation are doing to help those who have been hurt and are still hurting.

Limit exposure to continuing news stories and hold adult conversations only when children are not present. This will limit trauma by protecting children/youth from ongoing media images that may only contribute to fear and helplessness.

Reassure children and youth as you listen to their fears. Children and youth experience the same feelings as adults, so it is important and reasonable to validate their feelings while keeping a positive outlook on the future.

Share your own feelings with children and youth. Fear is a part of the human condition, and it is appropriate to affirm feelings of fear.

Contact organizations in your area that address the needs of children. Following traumatic events, these organizations are ready to answer your questions and respond to your concerns.

Provide structure through routine and activity which help regain a sense of control and security when so much feels out of control.

Encourage children to draw or write whatever comes to their minds, or give them a question to topic to draw about. Create a group mural or collage that illustrates the images children or youth have seen. Follow up by listening to what they may have to say about how they are feeling.

Do good. Doing good for other helps children/youth overcome the sense of powerlessness. 

Ongoing Communication is helpful for validating feelings about the images they see and conversations they hear about traumatic events. Most importantly, end each conversation on a positive note by assuring children of God's love. Scripture like, "God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble" or "God is a safe place to hide, ready to help when we need him," from Psalm 46 is one example of scripture that can bring comfort.

Resources for Parents/Caregivers:

Dealing with the Trauma of School Shootings from the National Child Traumatic Stress Network

Mental Health Tips from Oakland Community Health Network 

Processing the Tragedy of School Shootings from the Fuller Youth Institute

Children's Book to Help Process Trauma

Parent Guidelines for Helping Youth after a Recent Shooting from The National Child Traumatic Stress Network

Talking to Children About Violence: Tips for Parents and Teachers from the National Association of School Psychologists

Talking to Children about Terrorist Attacks and School and Community Shootings in the News from School Crisis Center

How to Talk to Kids About School Shootings from Common Sense Media

Holy Conversations: Violence from the Rio Texas Conference of The UMC

Frequently school districts will send out information and resources in your area. If you aren't sure, reach out to a school administrator or local mental health provider.

 

Resources for Church Leaders:

Six School Shooting Resources for Youth Ministry from the UMC Young People's Ministries 

Three Approached for Responding to School Shootings for Youth Workers from the UMC Young People's Ministries

Child Trauma Toolkit for Educators

Leanne Hadley (Grief Resources and Holy Listening Stones)

 

Resources for Young Children

Helping Children with Tragic Events in the News (PBS.org)

Traumatic Experiences Resources from Sesame Stress

Digital Playlists for Families

A digital playlist for families offers scripture, wondering questions, prayer, and activities to work through as a family. The playlists below relate to emotions and/or processing trauma.