UNT faculty available to discuss first anniversary of Sandy Hook Elementary shooting

Monday, December 2, 2013 - 12:44

This month will mark one year since a gunman killed 20 children and six adults at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn. Since the massacre on Dec. 14, many of the families of those killed began a national campaign to prevent school violence, and demolition has started on the school after a task force of elected officials voted unanimously to raze the school and build a new school, which will be open in three years, on the same property.

The following University of North Texas faculty members are available to discuss topics related to the anniversary of the shooting.

Eric Coleman, lecturer in the UNT Department of Criminal Justice with expertise in campus safety and security administration, will discuss school districts' response to the shooting..

Coleman says districts across the U.S. have been proactive by "giving critical analysis to what they're doing on a daily basis and what they need to do to improve and ensure the safety and well-being of their staff and students on their campuses."

"The Sandy Hook tragedy put focus on how absolutely essential it is to provide safe environments for students. Many Dallas-area school districts, for instance, are investing in the improvement and expansion of security infrastructure of their campuses, but one of the more important things schools can do to this end is to train faculty and staff in crisis management in order to de-escalate potential dangerous situations and take immediate life-saving actions," Coleman says.

Office phone number: 940-565-4593
Cell phone number: 214-907-0575
E-mail: John.Coleman@unt.edu

Wendy Middlemiss, associate professor of educational psychology in the UNT College of Education, can discuss how parents can talk to their children about the Sandy Hook shooting anniversary -- as they might see images from last year flashing on the screen again during the anniversary news coverage.

Middlemiss says anniversaries of tragic events "can often bring up stronger emotions than anticipated -- sometimes stronger emotions than an actual event."

"Often the emotions experienced are unexpected, making them harder to deal with," she says.

She believes that younger children without a direct connection to Newtown or who are not directly affected by trauma don't need to be informed about the anniversary of the Sandy Hook shooting.

"If children see things on TV, it would be wise for parents to ask their children what they are thinking about the tragedy, rather than presume what children are thinking," Middlemiss says. "Or parents could ask their children what they have or haven't seen, saying things like 'Last year, there was a terrible tragedy and many people will be very sad about what happened,'" or 'Have you talked about this in school?' Then the parents can ask their children what they think or feel about the event."

Asking questions is always the better approach so that parents get a better idea of what they need to address, or if they even need to address anything at all, Middlemiss says.

Cell phone number: 724-977-3067
E-mail: wendy.middlemiss@unt.edu.

UNT News Service Phone Number: (940) 565-2108

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