WRENTHAM — Superintendent Paul Zinni offers the following statement to the King Philip Regional School District community:
“Like the rest of you, I watched with sadness and outrage the coverage of the killing of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police last week. This tragedy is not simply something that happened in another part of the country, but rather has impacted us here at home in many ways, as we try to deal with our anger, shock and grief.
“I fully denounce the actions of the Minneapolis police officers that led to the loss of life. What took place in no way represents the values and principles of the King Philip Regional School District. We also take steps to foster strong relationships between our school community and our local police departments and School Resource Officers.
“We are constantly striving to be a more welcoming and inclusive school community. Through clubs such as the Gender & Sexuality Alliance, Student Ambassadors, the Leo Club, KP Cares and our middle school and high school Student Councils, we encourage all of our students to take an active role in making their school and their community a better and more respectful place.
“But we realize that the issue of racial inequality is real, and cannot be ignored. We will continue to seek out new ways to address the issue on both a local and a global scale, so our students are better prepared to enter the world in which they live after leaving KPRSD.
“I encourage parents and guardians to listen to their children’s questions and their feelings, and answer them in an honest, developmentally appropriate way. And to our students, please do not be afraid to speak up and speak out and make your voice heard.
“There are no easy answers, but we are here for you. As always, we can be reached at 508-520-7991 if any parent, guardian or student has questions or just needs to talk. Our strongest asset has always been our ability to come together in times of crisis, and we will face the challenges that are before us with a unified voice for the benefit of us all.”
Resources for Parents to Navigate Conversations and Support at Home
These are troubling times for a number of reasons. The recent events related to the killing of George Floyd raise emotions on many levels. Responses are often sparked by our own personal story, our own lived experiences. Parents and extended families can play vital roles in helping students of all ages process these emotions with honest, open discussions about what they have seen and heard through the media, and what they believe about race, racism, justice and other themes.
Racism and the trauma of repeated events such as these can certainly take their toll on mental health. The American Psychological Association urges those who are experiencing trauma in the aftermath of these tragedies to practice self-care. Connect with family, friends and other community support people, talk about your feelings and limit your exposure and that of your children to news media and viral videos. Seek professional help if you need it.
Resources available include the following:
Table Talk: Family Conversations About Current Events, appropriate for age 11 and up
Tips for Conversation from the Anti Defamation League:
- Find out what young people know and use the summary information to expand upon their prior knowledge.
- Ask what else they want to know and research together to learn more.
- When discussing the topic, ask young open ended questions that deepen the conversation.
- Be mindful not to judge their responses and listen thoughtfully.
- Think together about a child-level action they can take; this can be something they do on their own or something you do together or as a family.
Tips for Parents on Media Coverage, from the National Child Traumatic Stress Network
Talking to Kids About Race, from National Geographic
Talking to Kids About Discrimination, from the American Psychological Association
Helping Children Manage Stress in the Aftermath of a shooting, applicable tips from American Psychological Society
Supporting Kids of Color in the Wake of Racialized Violence, from Embracerace.org, a two-part webinar series including transcripts and listening option, with resources
Beyond the Golden Rule: A Parent’s Guide to Preventing and Responding to Prejudice, from Tolerance.org.
10 Tips for Teaching and Talking to Kids About Race, from EmbraceRace.org (may be helpful for parents of elementary children).
Talking About Race, for parents and caregivers (with content appropriate for high school students), from the National Museum of African American History and Culture
There are many books on related topics. Parents may find the following book lists helpful:
Your Kids Aren’t Too Young to Talk About Race: Resource roundup
Books on Racism and Social Justice, Common Sense Media recommends books, organized by age span.
Social Justice Book List, National Network of State Teachers of the Year & University of Phoenix, listing by grade span, early learning to adult and teachers
Coretta Scott King Book Award Winners, books for children and young adults
The Hate You Give, for ages 14 and up. This was read by some classes at King Philip Middle School this year. A guide for families who wish to engage in discussion about the book can be found here.