How does affectionate touch benefit relationships? Brett Jakubiak, associate professor of psychology in the College of Arts and Sciences, looks at whether affectionate touch can help people maintain intimacy and offer responsive social support. Jakubiak focuses on interpersonal support processes…
Falk Professor Offers Advice on Helping Children Process School Shootings
Jennifer Cornish Genovese is a professor of social work in the Falk College, a New York State licensed certified social worker and has worked in private practice as a psychotherapist for 30 years. She specializes in helping children deal with trauma and offers thoughts on how to best help children cope in the wake of mass shootings at school.
“The tragic school shooting in Uvalde, Texas, which left 19 children and two teachers dead, was unimaginable. A classroom, which should have been a safe space for children, turned into a scene of panic and terror. Parents, teachers and mental health professionals are left trying to explain the unthinkable to children, while trying to make sense of this senseless tragedy themselves.
A single act has changed the lives of children, families, a community and a nation. The devastation of this event has reached into every home across this country, again, because the loss of one child sends ripple effects throughout our country. We cannot make sense of this tragedy, but we can turn to one another and share our communal shock and grief. Adults can support children by being present with them, listening to their words, sensing their feelings and seeing their actions. Children may express feelings through their behaviors rather than words, thus adults must focus on myriad ways children communicate their emotions.
Following exposure to a traumatic event, children may have difficulty regulating their emotions and often become anxious, clingy, irritable, confused or fearful. They might be difficult to soothe or comfort. Children may appear sad, numb or depressed; or become silent and withdrawn. In these times of anguish and sorrow, adults must listen to children with their ears, their eyes and their hearts, knowing that in their confusion and pain, children may express fear and uncertainty in unfamiliar ways.
Although adults may be experiencing similar symptoms, it is incumbent upon them to provide children with a safe harbor, a place where they can express their thoughts and feelings and find comfort and hope. By allowing children to express themselves in an authentic manner, adults offer a secure base where feelings can be acknowledged and affirmed, and hope can be instilled again.”