Since then, some students have been reluctant to return to the classroom.
Some students were reluctant to get out of their cars when parents dropped off their children at school Tuesday morning in Uvalde, Texas. Bonnie Fear, crisis response coordinator for the Lutheran Church charity K-9 Comfort Dog Ministries, said comfort dogs were on site to help ease tensions and provide distraction. This is a return to school unlike anything the community has ever experienced.
Uvalde School District has asked the department to bring back the dogs to make them comfortable for the first three weeks of school. 10 dogs Support eight schools. Each dog has two handlers.
Some schools welcomed students outside with dogs. On one campus, dogs sat quietly in counselors’ offices to help students in need.
“It will continue to change as the need arises and the children get used to routines. If we need a dog, the counselor will direct us where to go.” It’s about being with people who are hurt and in need, whatever they’re feeling, just being with them.”
Comfort dogs have been helping communities affected by devastating gun violence for years. They were placed in Newtown, Connecticut, after the 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary school shooting. The dog was sent to Orlando, Florida, to provide comfort after the 2016 Pulse-her nightclub shooting, and to Parkland, Florida, after the Marjory Stoneman Douglas incident. rice field. 2018 high school shooting incident.
The Lutheran Church Charity K-9 Ministry Team was at the scene of these tragedies.
“We’re invited, we show up, and we let the dogs do the work,” said Fear.
“Animals help relieve fear and anxiety”
Of course, most experts emphasize that the solace and benefits provided by a companion animal are complementary to the medical or psychological treatment the person receives.
“For those who have experienced trauma, dogs and animals generally help facilitate the healing process. Animals can help reduce fear and anxiety,” says Jacksonville, Fla.-based pediatric and adolescent Angela Whittinghill, pediatric behavioral therapist at Child Behavioral Health and Brightline, wrote in an email to CNN: She includes her comfort dog in her own therapy.
A range of interventions, large and small, may need to be deployed to help people recover from tragedy.
“Going back to school after a tragedy like the one we experienced in Uvalde, Texas, must be a very anxiety-inducing event for children and staff. It’s one of the best ways to do it, and it’s a better option than just offering talk therapy,” Whittinghill wrote.
Whittinghill, who was born and raised in Honduras, added that comfort dogs could be particularly beneficial to Uvalde’s community, which is populated primarily by Hispanic or Latinx residents.
“Dogs are healers and these children need healing. Talking to strangers about our feelings is not comfortable for the Hispanic community.” It will serve its purpose.”
According to Julia Myers Manor, an associate professor of psychology at Ripon University in Wisconsin, dogs can notice when someone is upset or needs help.
In an email to CNN, Myers-Manor said, “We know that petting and even physical presence of dogs can reduce stress. We also know that animals can participate in and be accepted into therapy by both children and adults.” I also know that it can increase the motivation of
“My research on empathy suggests that dogs are sensitive to human crying and seek contact with people who cry,” she writes. I know, but people can find solace in stuffed animals, pictures of animals, and even robotic animals.”
As for Uvalde, Myers-Manner added that he believes comfort dogs can help community members, especially children, when they are feeling stressed or anxious.
“We need to think carefully about how we use the dogs we use. Not all children are comforted by dogs,” she wrote. I think it can bring joy to children when used as part of an option.
New research field
“He was a counselor of sorts. His dog happened to be around and this was in the 1950s. “It’s been helping people,” said Colleen Dell, an animal therapy researcher, practitioner and professor at the University of Saskatchewan in Canada.
But the widespread deployment of comfort animals, as seen in Uvalde and other scenes of tragedy and disaster, is still fairly new, Dell said.
However, “These few studies in circulation have had mixed results, including limited sample sizes and different ways in which researchers analyzed the data. That’s never a bad thing. It’s , is just an emerging area,” said Dell. He said.
“There is so much going on in this natural type of relationship or communication or connection between a patient or participant and a dog,” she said. There are actually no studies that have looked at the effects of handlers, as they also mediate the effects.”
Overall, Dell believes that if someone like Uvalde who has recently experienced a tragedy likes dogs, having comfort dogs available would be beneficial.
“They’re going to be a distraction,” she said of the dog. Being able to listen and not judge – that’s going to be really important, especially for children.”