Academic journal article European Journal of Psychotraumatology

Explaining the Unexplainable: Designing a National Strategy on Classroom Communication concerning the 22 July Terror Attack in Norway

Academic journal article European Journal of Psychotraumatology

Explaining the Unexplainable: Designing a National Strategy on Classroom Communication concerning the 22 July Terror Attack in Norway

Article excerpt

UNDERSTANDING TERROR AND VIOLENCE IN THE LIVES OF CHILDREN AND ADOLESCENTS

Explaining the unexplainable: designing a national strategy on classroom communication concerning the 22 July terror attack in Norway

Jon-Håkon Schultz1,2*, Åse Langballe1 and Magne Raundalen3

1Norwegian Centre for Violence and Traumatic Stress Studies, Oslo, Norway; 2Department of Education, University of Tromsø, Tromsø, Norway; 3Center for Crisis Psychology, Bergen, Norway

Abstract

Background : In the context of crisis and disasters, school-aged children are a vulnerable group with fewer coping resources than adults. The school is a key arena for preventive interventions; teachers can be given a key role in large-scale school-based interventions following a man-made or natural disaster.

Objectives : This paper describes a practical example of designing a school-based population-level intervention.

Methods : The preventive measures were delivered as a national communication strategy between teachers and pupils aged 6-19 concerning the terror attack on 22 July 2011 in Norway. The strategy is based on principles from international research.

Results : The presentation contributes to the discussion of defining the teacher's role in school-based crisis interventions and dealing with high-intensity media coverage of war, terror, and catastrophes.

Conclusions : The presentation provides educational and psychological perspectives on how teachers can take an active role in helping pupils to deal with such events through two approaches: the therapeutic approach, to restore calm and feelings of safety; and the educational approach, to foster reflection and deeper understanding.

Keywords: Teacher role; school-based interventions; crisis and terror

Responsible Editor: Grete Dyb, Norwegian Centre for Violence and Traumatic Stress Studies, NKVTS, Norway.

*Correspondence to: Jon-Håkon Schultz, Norwegian Centre for Violence and Traumatic Stress Studies, P.O. Box 181, Nydalen, NO-0409 Oslo, Norway, Email: j.h.schultz@nkvts.unirand.no

For the abstract or full text in other languages, please see Supplementary files under Article Tools online

This paper is part of the Special Issue: Understanding terror and violence in the lives of children and adolescents . More papers from this issue can be found at http://www.eurojnlofpsychotraumatol.net

Received: 4 September 2013; Revised: 16 April 2014; Accepted: 16 May 2014; Published: 2 July 2014

European Journal of Psychotraumatology 2014. © 2014 Jon-Håkon Schultz et al. This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 Unported (CC BY 4.0) License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/), allowing third parties to copy and redistribute the material in any medium or format, and to remix, transform, and build upon the material, for any purpose, even commercially, under the condition that appropriate credit is given, that a link to the license is provided, and that you indicate if changes were made. You may do so in any reasonable manner, but not in any way that suggests the licensor endorses you or your use.

Citation: European Journal of Psychotraumatology 2014, 5 : 22758 - http://dx.doi.org/10.3402/ejpt.v5.22758

Studies on the consequences of disasters and terrorism in the general population are limited (Miguel-Tobal et al., 2006; Norris, Friedman, & Watson, 2002a, b). Studies indicate that psychological health and social relations can be affected within the population in general, but especially for populations living geographically close to the attack. Both the general population in New York after the September 11, 2001, attack and the population in Madrid after the Madrid bombing in 2004 showed a two-fold increase in the level of depression over the following months (Miguel-Tobal et al. …

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