The Worst has Happened

Today we have a guest post from Cindy (White Oak Library District) and she’s talking about what to do when tragedy hits.

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I love, love, love my job! But sometimes it is very hard. Last year my mother woke me up to tell me there was a shooter on the loose in the village I work in. I called my co-worker to make sure her doors were locked because I know she never locks her doors and then I waited. All the schools were on lock down. The library was told not to open. We all waited. I kept thinking how scared the teens who I work with must be. I knew they must be confused about what was going on and misinformation was probably spreading throughout the school like an awful game of telephone. On the news that said a teen girl had been murdered outside her house and they were looking for her killer. I sat waiting to see if I knew her.

These are things they do not teach you in library school. How to wait to see if a child you know has been murdered. They caught the killer. A name was released. It was familiar but not a regular. Then the teens came in after school and it was terrible. I sat with many of them who had been terrified someone was going to get them when their school had been on lock down. I also talked to kids who knew the girl who had been murdered. Everyone was upset. I was upset. I was heartbroken for my teens and had been a nervous wreck waiting for word on what was happening.

This was not the first time I knew a teen patron who was murdered. A year before a girl from the community was murdered along with her mother and sister. I will never get used to having teens who I know be murdered and I will never get used to having to help teens who know the victims deal with their grief.

How to help your teens:

  1. Listen to them! They need someone who will listen to them and validate their feelings.
  2. Make them feel safe in the library. Sometimes the teens will ask what we do if there is a problem inside the library. Let them know that there are emergency produces to try to keep everyone safe.
  3. Be honest with them and do not talk down to them.
  4. Keep the teens busy by giving them low stress activities that you can do together like coloring sheets and helping you with projects. Sometimes just keep them busy and have something on hand for them to do.
  5. Do not push them to talk about it. Some kids are not ready to talk or have already talked about it with someone else. Make the library a safe and stable place for them

How to help yourself:

  1. Take your breaks. You need down time to take care of you.
  2. Keep yourself safe by learning all of your emergency procedures and have them on your desk in case of an emergency, if it will make you feel more prepared.
  3. Go for a walk and get fresh air.
  4. Do your low stress work.
  5. Talk to your co-workers to let them know what going on with you and the teens. My co-workers are a huge part of my support system.
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