Teaching Students About the Santa Clarita School Shooting: A Guide for Educators


The tragic event of the Santa Clarita school shooting in 2019 remains a painful topic for many. As educators, it is important to address these types of events with students in a manner that promotes appropriate discussions and understanding. This article offers guidance on how to navigate this sensitive subject with your students.

1. Preparing for the Conversation

Before diving into the conversation about the Santa Clarita school shooting, take some time to educate yourself on the facts surrounding the incident. Understanding the key details and timeline will help you to answer any questions students may have.

2. Creating a Safe Environment

When discussing sensitive topics like school shootings, it’s crucial to create a safe environment for students where they feel comfortable sharing their thoughts and feelings. Set some ground rules for the conversation, such as respecting different opinions, not interrupting others while they’re speaking, and using appropriate language.

3. Addressing Fears and Concerns

Students may express fears about their own safety after learning about the Santa Clarita school shooting. Acknowledge these fears and reassure them by outlining the safety measures in place at your school. Discuss emergency drills and procedures so that students are aware of what to do if an emergency occurs.

4. Encouraging Empathy and Support

Use this opportunity to promote empathy among your students by discussing how survivors, victims’ families, and the larger community were affected by the tragedy. Encourage them to consider how they might help or support those affected by similar incidents or anyone who is grieving.

5. Promoting Awareness of Mental Health Issues

The Santa Clarita school shooting highlights the importance of addressing mental health issues among young people. Discuss warning signs of mental health concerns and promote open communication within your classroom so that students feel comfortable seeking help if they need it.

6. Exploring Prevention Strategies

Discussing potential prevention strategies can empower students to take an active role in promoting safety within their community. Brainstorm ways to raise awareness about gun violence and mental health, as well as steps students can take if they become aware of a potential threat.

7. Reflecting on the Discussion

Encourage students to reflect on the conversation afterwards privately or through a group activity. This could be done through journaling or creating artwork inspired by their thoughts and feelings about the topic. Reflection helps students to process difficult emotions and can promote healing.


Talking to students about sensitive topics like the Santa Clarita school shooting is not an easy task but is essential in fostering understanding and empathy. By following these steps, you can create a supportive environment for discussing such events, empowering your students with knowledge, empathy, and a sense of agency in times of tragedy.