How To: Helping Young People Process the Christchurch Tragedy

Contributed by: National Youth Leaders

Friday the 15th of March was a very sad day in our nation.  Many of us are struggling even to know where to start in processing the brutal murder of so many of our Muslim neighbours.

Our interdenominational national youth leaders have put together this simple resource to help you and parents to help support your young people in the wake of this national tragedy.

Some important things to keep in mind:

This event will affect people in different ways, be prepared to be sensitive and responsive to the different questions and needs that arise from your young people.

Create a safe place for young people to think and ask anything – no comment or question is too silly

  1. Channel young people’s negative energy and emotions towards some simple positive actions
  2. Be aware of the possible triggering that such an event can be for some of our young people who are struggling with mental health challenges such as anxiety, depression and suicidality
  3. Support young people’s parents and pass this info onto them as well

The event

The most helpful thing you can do in light of the Christchurch shootings is to create a safe space for young people to process what has happened. Here is a great article from The Parenting Place that gives some great insight into have such a conversation: How to talk to your kids about: Trauma

Consider using some psalms of lament to help provide a pathway for healthy grieving for young people. Psalms 10, 46, 57, 86 or 61 could be helpful places to start here.

Help young people make some simple positive actions in their grief

In the wake of tragic and sad events we all need to work through a barrage of negative emotions which include sadness and anger and fear. One of most helpful things that you can do for your young people is create some opportunities for them to channel this negative emotional energy into some positive avenues.
This article from The Spinoff shares some excellent ways that your young people can individually or collectively do some simple actions that can make a real difference for those who are closest to the tragedy that has unfolded.

Looking out for signs and symptoms in our most vulnerable young people

For some people tragic events like this can trigger a very negative spiral of thinking which can lead to greater levels of depression, anxiety and even suicidality. The best thing we can do here is to create a space for young people to express how they are feeling and to be straight up with them if we have any concerns for their safety. Zeal has produced an excellent and simple resource to help guide you and parents through a conversation if there is any concern about a young person’s mental health post this event: Supporting each other through 13 Reasons Why: A youth worker’s perspective

Understanding Islam and how it relates to the Christian Faith

A brief article on the subject by ChristianAnswers.net

A more in-depth article from the Lausanne Movement for those who want to know more.

This helpful short article gives us a little more insight into how Muslim people grieve so that we can better help our Muslim neighbours at this time.

Exploring how we can cultivate better approaches to living in diversity

Longer term, you might want to explore the concept of tolerance around religious and cultural differences through the lens of Scripture, in which case The Youth Cartel have this great resource you can buy for a few dollars.

 

Hōmai ki a mātou āianei he matauranga me aroha mā mātou mō tēnei rā.

Lord give us today the wisdom and love we need.