Positive tools for thriving families.

“Teachers at an Indiana elementary school were left bruised, bleeding and frightened after being shot “execution style” with plastic pellets during an active-shooter training exercise in January”, according to the Indiana State Teachers Association.

According to USA Today, “lockdown drills have been around for decades, but as fear of school shootings has intensified, they have become more widespread and elaborate. According to a 2016 Government Accountability Office survey, almost all of the nation’s public schools participated in lockdown drills the previous year, and 67 percent held active shooter drills. Those that did not said they were concerned the exercise, which often involves a live simulation of an armed assailant, would create too much fear.”

USA Today interviewed Dr. Maker on the pros and cons of active trainer shooting exercises and the possible impact on teachers and students. As pointed out in the article, “Active shooter drills can be frightening for anyone. The threat of danger, even when simulated, can feel very real. But for people who have experienced previous trauma, active shooter lockdown drills can be especially triggering, mental health experts say.”

Dr. Maker elaborates, “If kids or teachers have had a history of trauma — even if you tell them we’re doing a lockdown drill Tuesday and this is what’s going to happen — when they’re physically in the situation and they’re re-experiencing the significant danger, the physical memories in your body and your brain just fire up.”

“In that situation you are helpless, in that situation you are in pain, in that situation you feel danger. And those are the markers that define trauma,” said clinical psychologist Azmaira Maker.

Hence, Dr. Maker emphasizes “why it’s important for schools to work with psychologists and education specialists in the planning of drills. Schools may even be able to identify ahead of time, through school counselors, kids who should not participate, whether because of trauma or sensorial issues.”

For young children who have experienced a traumatic death, the children’s book, Where Did My Friend Go? can serve as an effective coping tool and guide for adults to support children’s understanding and resilience.

School shootings are sadly an unfortunate part of our children’s social word, and drills to prepare teachers and students for shootings have become routine in our schools. Nevertheless, it is critical that we ensure the mental and physical safety of our children and teachers in the process, and provide evidence based research on the short and long-term psychological impact and effectiveness of these drills.

To read the complete article, please visit: https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/investigations/2019/03/22/indiana-shooter-drill-lockdowns-mock-active-shooters-traumatic/3247173002/


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  • Exceptional, impressive, thoroughly 'kid friendly' from beginning to end, "Family Changes: Explaining Divorce to Children" should be a part of every community library Parenting Studies collections. For families with young children who are having to deal with divorce, "Family Changes: Explaining Divorce to Children" will prove to be an invaluable and instructive aid.

    Editor in Chief - Midwest Book Review

  • Those of us parenting, working with, or caring for children experiencing divorce will welcome Family Changes as a unique, positive, and creative resource for helping children understand and cope with this complicated transition. The comprehensive note to adults effectively explains how children work through painful questions and feelings. The touching story—with the endearing Zoey and her attempt to understand a very grown up topic—ends with extremely helpful follow up questions that will be highly valued by parents, child advocates, therapists, and others who wish to better serve children during this difficult time. I highly recommend this book to parents and professionals.

    Sacha Coupet, Ph.D., J.D. Clinical Psychologist and Associate Professor of Family Law, Loyola University, Chicago, IL

  • Family Changes: Explaining Divorce to Children is an outstanding book that is gentle, positive, and validating for both children and adults. With an excellent and informative parent guide about the value of talking to children about their feelings, a highly sensitive and engaging story with exquisite illustrations, and an effective list of questions that children typically ask, this book is essential reading for divorcing families, and for therapists and advocates working with children of divorce.

    Sandra A. Graham-Bermann, Ph.D., Professor of Psychology and Psychiatry, University of Michigan

  • Family Changes is an inspiring and exceptional book on divorce. It explains divorce in a developmentally appropriate and comforting language that validates children's complex feelings about divorce. Dr. Maker's expertise and years of experience working with children who are coping with the grief and confusion that often accompany divorce shine through in every page. I highly recommend this book to divorcing parents, schools, libraries, and professionals working with children of divorce.

    Martha Crowe, M.A. Child Development, Institute for Public Health, San Diego State University, CA

  • Dr. Maker has brought us this excellent child-centric educational book about how to navigate the changes of a family undergoing divorce. Dr. Maker takes us through this experience from the child's point of view and shares the gift of positive transformation that can occur during this life-changing time. The illustrations are sublime and the topic is handled so gently and ingeniously. Of course, it is written by a child psychologist with the gift of creativity. It's a book that every child therapist, library, school, and families going through a divorce should have on their shelves.

    Krista Royabal, M.D., Psychiatrist, Executive Medical Director, True Life Center for Wellbeing, CA

  • Based on the typical emotional turbulence a child feels from separation or divorce, Family Changes receives high recommendation as the first title that adults should turn to in the effort to explain, explore, and support a child's feelings in the matter, concluding with a list of 'process questions' which adults can use to further enhance the story line's overall approach.

    CA Bookwatch/Donovan’s Literary Services/Recommended Reading

  • The story touches on several key issues that children worry about - will their parents still love them, will they have two homes now, did they somehow cause the divorce, etc. The book also opens with a straightforward Note to Adults and ends with a list of questions that adults can discuss with children. Often books that do a good job of explaining divorce and separation are so focused on the child's point-of-view, that they don't offer any advice for the parents, caregivers, and teachers that are trying to help the child makes sense of it all. Family Changes avoids that problem and gives good guidelines for adults. I would recommend this book to parents and other family members, educators, and counselors.

    NetGalley Reviews/The Fairview Review - Librarian

  • This story is filled with little moments that reflect the nature of children perfectly. If you need to explain what it means to be divorced or separated to your child then this is one of the best ways to do that. The book is filled with relatable emotions and questions that a lot of children will have if their family is going through a separation. Dr. Maker’s years of experience are evident in the story as she masterfully addresses many common concerns for children experiencing a divorce in their family.

    The Littlest Bookshelf