Advice on how to handle questions from children about the Abbotsford school stabbing - InfoNews

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Advice on how to handle questions from children about the Abbotsford school stabbing

A girl arrives to lay flowers at a makeshift memorial outside Abbotsford Secondary School in in Abbotsford, B.C., Wednesday, Nov. 2, 2016. Two students were stabbed at the school Tuesday, leaving one dead and one in hospital.
Image Credit: THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
November 03, 2016 - 9:41 AM

LETTER TO PARENTS FROM KELOWNA SCHOOL DISTRICT

KELOWNA – After two students were stabbed, one fatally, at a high school in Abbotsford this week, the Kelowna School District has sent letters home to parents advising them how to talk to their children about the tragedy.

Superintendent of Schools Kevin Kaardal says in the letter the Central Okanagan School District is “deeply saddened by the act of violence that occurred.”

“As the shock subsides, thoughts turn to our own schools and our own students,” he says in the letter. “It is understandable there will be some anxiety throughout the school district about this incident.”

Kaardal says although the risk of a similar incident taking place here is “extremely remote,” school staff will review safety procedures and ensure they are up-to-date.

School staff have been asked to watch for students’ reactions and will be prepared to offer support if needed. The district also includes some strategies parents can use to help their family cope with the randomness of the attack.

Police and school officials say a barefoot man walked into Abbotsford Senior Secondary School on Tuesday, Nov. 1 and attacked the girls before staff restrained him.

Sgt. Jennifer Pound of the Integrated Homicide Investigation Team said Gabriel Klein, a 21-year-old homeless man, has been charged with second-degree murder in the death of the 13-year-old student and aggravated assault in the attack on the 14-year-old.

"Evidence suggests this attack was random," Pound said. "We do not believe the suspect has ties to the school, to the two girls, or to the Abbotsford community."

While police haven't named the stabbing victim, several students have identified the girl who died as Letisha Reimer.

Parents and guardians of local students are advised to spend extra time with their kids and if necessary distract them with books or movies. Allowing the student time to express thoughts, concerns and feelings in a safe, non-judgmental, emotionally safe environment and to talk about what you know in short, honest answers when asked.

“Your child will look to you for reassurance,” the district says in the letter to parents. “Do not convey your own feelings of hopelessness, but rather let your child know that they will get through this difficult period.”

They also recommend parents watch for changes in appetite, anxiety, sleep disturbances and physical pain and if necessary, seek medical help.

“As much as possible, attempt to provide normalcy to your child. Humans are creatures of habit and derive comfort from regular routines.”


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