Helping children cope with deadly London, Ont. crash
Efforts are underway to help children affected by Tuesday night’s devastating crash on Riverside Drive.
“When we overwhelm kids’ sense of safety and security in how the world works we see changes in behaviour,” said Dr. Claire Crooks, the director of the School for Mental Health at Western University. “We see some kids might get nightmares or more worried or more defiant. And that’s all normative. And when we start to worry about reactions is when time goes on and they’re not changing.”
An eight-year-old girl died, while several more children and one adult were injured when a vehicle struck 10 pedestrians Tuesday night.
Crooks said being patient and following children’s leads will help them cope.
“Some kids may want to talk about this, some don’t need to. We know that children process these events differently. It’s not helpful for us to sort of insist that kids talk about something like this because some of them may not need to, and talking about it may actually make them feel more agitated or upset.”
The Thames Valley District School Board has dispatched its Traumatic Events Response Team to its schools affected by the crash.
Director of Education Mark Fisher has offered condolences on behalf of the board. He added that they’re trying to be sensitive to the situation.
“We recognize that this is a triggering event for many in our community based on the terrorist attack that happened last June, and so we have to be sensitive to the needs of everybody to make sure that we’re looking after one another. One of the things that happens in these situations is that it often brings out the best in our staff and we work together to support everybody to make sure that we’re okay.”
The London District Catholic School Board is also providing support to its affected schools, according to Superindent Ana Paula Fernandes.
“We provide resources for our teachers, for educators, as well as tip sheets for our caregivers. At times, if needed, we’re out in our schools. The presence of chaplaincy, social work, the presence of senior administration lending that additional hand.”
Both school boards, along with London Police Service, say they won’t be releasing the names of the victims at this time to respect the wishes of their families.