18 Apr Responding to Paris
Responding to Paris
The world is coming to grips with the horror of the terrorist attacks in France that took 129 lives and injured over 400 others in mass shootings and suicide bombings this weekend. Only days before, Beirut suffered a terrorist attack where 43 people died and 240 were wounded. As a youth worker or manager in a student boarding residence you will be responding to these atrocities while supporting the students you care for. How should we react and respond?
1. Responding to fear. Some students will be fearful that this sort of terrorist violence could affect them or their families. Others may fear (as many did after 9/11) that the world has changed and is no longer a safe place. Things will never be the same again!Boarding staff can support students, allay their fears and bring a sense of calm and perspective to the residence. Explain to students that the whole aim of terrorist action is to create fear and if we DONT give in to fear, or change our lives because of terrorism, then the terrorists dont succeed. Be very observant for young people who may be particularly affected or upset because they have some connection withFrance or come from a Muslim tradition.
2. Responding to outrage and anger. Some students will be very angry and this is an understandable emotion, as people all around the world are outraged by these attacks against innocent people going about their everyday lives. Boarding staff can respond to this sense of anger and outrage by making sure that responses are rational and not out of controlor mis-directed. It is important that the responses from boarding staff are balanced and reasoned.
3. Responding to blame. Some students will want to blame the Syrian refugees or Muslim people generally. Boarding staff can act quickly to redirect this kind of response and help students see that these groups are also victims of this terrorist action. Encourage students to show empathy towards these people and try to understand what it would be like to be walking in their shoes at this time.
4. Responding to mis-information. After events such as the Paris terrorist attack, there is always wrong information and biased, racially prejudiced material, particularly on social media forums. Boarding staff can respond by ensuring that they have accurate information that they can pass on to students. Boarding staff might up-date students regularly with calm, well-informed details, so that they understand what is happening. It is also an opportunity to talk to students about mis-information and inappropriate reactions by showing examples and discussing posts. Display positive messages and examples of well-balanced messages of goodwill around the Residence.
5. Responding positively. People around the world have been displaying the blue, white and red of the French flag in so many creative statements of support and solidarity. Others are using the symbol of the Eiffel tower so the French people know that all around the world, others are thinking of them and standing with them in their time of national pain. It may be possible for the boarding residence to do something to show that they support the people of Beirut and France. Students may come up with other ideas to show empathy and support. It is healthy to try to process this kind of tragic event as a boarding community rather than ignore it.