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Kids need personal, not social, networks

April 20, 2011
Marshall Independent

arshall school officials, along with a crisis team from SW/WC Service Cooperative are doing a good thing by stepping up and reaching out to students and their parents and to the community as everyone copes with last weekend's incident outside of Marshall where two middle school students took their own lives.

As school officials and, in some cases, leaders within the community, this group expedited grief counseling Sunday and have continued it this week, held a news conference for members of local and statewide media to dispel rumors and organized an unprecedented event at the middle school Tuesday evening to give parents some kind of guidance as to how best to handle the situation within the walls of their own homes.

As Marshall Public Schools Superintendent Klint Willert put it in a letter to parents this week, the incident "reminds us that we must band together as parents, increase our understanding of warning signs, and seek positive solutions to problems."

This is a tough and confusing time for all students and their parents, and as these young children try to move on after what happened, it's going to be up to their parents to be there for them, to answer questions they might have, and to give them comfort and advice as time moves forward. In that respect, some parents may need a little guidance and even some informal training on how best to answer difficult questions their children might have.

All parents should be reminded to keep the lines of communication with their kids wide open, to listen to everything they have to say, and to encourage their kids to express their thoughts, feelings and emotions - not only about what happened last weekend, but about anything that's on their minds. Tuesday's meeting was designed to be a teaching tool for all parents that they can use now and in the future as their children grow up in a society full of pressures today's parents never experienced when they were 10, 11 or 12 years old.

If a child is looking for answers, we want them to turn to their immediate, personal networks - their parents or their school leaders - not to the social, online networks where the answers they're looking for cannot be found.

We applaud Marshall Schools for providing some important training and seeing these families through a very difficult time in their lives.



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