I really don't want to add my voice to the expressions of horror and sadness the teachers, families and citizens of Newtown, Connecticut experienced at the Sandy Hook Elementary school. I think empathy and reflection are all we can do to help as we come to grips with the extent of the tragedy.
There are no immediate answers that can prevent this from happening again. There are simply too many guns out there, too many mentally and morally deficient people and too much glorification of violence in our society. Greater control of WMD-type guns would help, but that's not the only thing we can to do. Better understanding and treatment of mental illness and personality disorders would go a long way to prevent some of these situations in the future. Finally, it may be time to classify depictions of violence the same way we classify pornography--not fit for mainstream public consumption--definitely not to be viewed by children.
As an educator who served once as an ad hoc grief counselor in New York City after a student was assassinated in his classroom in front of his high school classmates, I can tell you that the psychological trauma experienced by the students and teachers was difficult to deal with. No one there was able to face the world and the school environment in the same way again. We tend to think that only little children will need our sustained attention and counseling, but even older children and adults need tender treatment and concentrated counseling.
The AFT has a series of valuable links that parents, teachers and student should find helpful when confronted with school violence. You can find them here in both English and Spanish. Here's a link from the Connecticut Department of Education. American Psychological Association has some very good information for dealing and talking about this kind of school trauma.
I call on the AFT and Connecticut Department of Education to offer the educators at Sandy Hook Elementary School the highest award for public service in their roles as "super heroes" who made the ultimate sacrifice to protect the children in their charge.
Let us reflect on thoughts of peace and kindness.