Yesterday, we witnessed an act of domestic terrorism. Let us stand together to condemn this violence and assure our community that our democracy is stronger than this threat.
As events unfolded, we saw disturbing images of violence, racism, and antisemitism. We experienced the chaos of the Capitol under siege. These events and images can be confusing and distressing, and our youth are foremost on our minds.
As always, our staff is prepared to support scholars today and assure them that our democracy is stable and we will see the peaceful transition of power. In moments like these, children respond in dramatically different ways. Some may exhibit a great deal of anxiety, while others may appear unaffected or would prefer not to discuss the matter, at least in the short-term. A range of responses is perfectly normal. If your child/ren are in need, please reach out to your child’s Crew leader or the appropriate grade-level counselor. Please call McAuliffe if you are unsure how to contact someone.
Moments like these call upon untapped strengths of all of us as parents, guardians, and caregivers. We might ourselves be shaken, but we also know that when our children see violence and instability, they need calm and confidence from us. For those at home contemplating conversations with children, here are some tips from child therapist Alice Barber:
Tell them that yesterday was a sad day for our country.
Tell them that they are okay.
Tell them that you are okay.
Give them some of the facts.
Tell them that the people who entered the Capitol building are no longer there.
Tell them that the people who entered the building were not protesters.
Tell them that protesting is something that people do to move our country forward when there are injustices.
Tell them that these rioters were wrong to do this.
Tell them that they picked yesterday to enter this building because yesterday was the day when the next president of the United States (Joe Biden) and the Vice President (Kamala Harris) were going to be affirmed by the workers in the building.
Tell them that the people who wrongly entered the building did so because they wanted to stop this process.
Tell them that they didn’t succeed in stopping the process, that the process was delayed for a few hours but the workers went back to work and affirmed the new President and Vice President before the night was over.
Tell then they can ask questions, that you may not have all the answers, but you will try to figure them out.
Tell them about how racism is the underpinning of much of the actions of these rioters.
Tell them about how some leaders can be dangerous. When they are ready, give specific examples.
Tell them that, when they are older, voting will be a very, very important job for them to do.
Tell them to always work hard to make sure all votes count.
As I wrote just before Election Day, McAuliffe believes that an intense commitment to self and community will foster a more just and equitable future. We extol civil rights, the precious value of free and fair elections, and the power of an educated populace taking action. We believe that our motto — “We Are Crew, Not Passengers” — should be the rallying cry of everyone across this land.
We also stand with the Massachusetts Charter Public School Association: it is not lost upon us that the manner in which these acts of violence have been addressed by law enforcement stands in direct contrast to the way that peaceful Black Lives Matter protests were treated not too long ago. These acts and the response to these acts are not just an assault on the fabric of our democracy, but they also continue to illuminate and lay bare the double-standard that is applied in our country based on race.
Let us move forward together, with confidence, in support of each other during this difficult time.