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

Schultz, J. H., Langballe, Å., & Raundalen, M. (2014). Explaining the unexplainable: designing a national strategy on classroom communication concerning the 22 July terror attack in Norway. European Journal of Psychotraumatology, 5(22758). doi:10.3402/ejpt.v5.22758

In the context of crisis and disasters, school-aged children are a vulnerable group with fewer coping resources than adults. This paper describes a practical example of designing a school-based population-level intervention.

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