Responding to the events in Charlottesville and Spain

Dear members of the GSEMA community,

The events of this week, from the demonstrations and violence that took place in Charlottesville with ripple effects throughout our nation, to the terror attacks last night in Spain, have been upsetting beyond words for many of us. As Girl Scouts, we believe in making the world a better place, and the violence and hatred that has been unfolding goes against everything we believe in. These events, and the 24/7 news coverage, have left many of our Girl Scouts anxious, worried, frightened, angry, and confused. In times like these, our Girl Scouts turn to us, the trusted adults in their lives, for guidance.

I am writing to offer some resources that may help you and others in your life talk about the emotions they are feeling, and hopefully find some comfort in these deeply challenging times. Girl Scouts’ developmental psychologist, Dr. Andrea Bastiani-Archibald, author of the blog Raising Awesome Girls, recently addressed this topic in a post called “Talking to Your Daughter About Hate and Violence.” Dr. Bastiani-Archibald offers these tips for talking with girls about these events:

  • Admit what she saw was real. Girls need to be able to trust the adults in their lives to tell them the truth. Lying about what really happened ultimately can undermine her trust.
  • Let her lead the conversation. Ask her what she is thinking and feeling and respond to her questions with age-appropriate answers. Really listen and share your own feelings. Let her know that violence is not the answer, and that it is never OK to stereotype any group of people based on isolated incidents. Make sure to have follow up conversations and check in regularly to see how she is feeling.
  • Watch what you watch (and say). Consider what you watch and say about frightening current events in front of your daughter, even if you do not think she is paying attention.
  • Provide Stability. Having a solid routine can help kids feel more anchored and safe. Keep bedtimes and mealtimes as regular as possible—– and if there must be a change in plans, take the time to explain what will happen and why.
  • Reach out for help. If you do not think your daughter is recovering healthfully from the trauma of recent events, reach out to a school counselor or psychologist for help.

For more tips from Dr. Bastiani-Archibald and a link to the entire blog post, click here.

As we think about how these events affect us personally, our thoughts inevitably turn to those who knew and loved Heather Heyer, who lost her life in Charlottesville standing up for what she believed in. Heyer’s friends have said she joined the counter-protesters to oppose racism and injustice. Heyer’s mother, Susan Bro, asked at her daughter’s memorial service for those who were listening to find a “spark of accountability” in their hearts and ask themselves: “What is there that I can do to make the world a better place?” How amazing Heather must have been, and how strong her mother is, to turn her loss into a call for peace, acceptance of others, and love. These sentiments align so strongly with the Girl Scout values embedded in our Promise and Law.

At Girl Scouts, our diversity has been our greatest strength for more than 100 years. We come from different backgrounds and we may not always agree on issues large and small, but we are united by the core values that make us Girl Scouts. This knowledge gives me strength every day, and I hope that it may offer you comfort as you look towards a brighter future. This also reinforces my appreciation for what you do every day for Girl Scouts. Our girls (and boys) need you now more than ever.

It is easy to become overwhelmed, even pessimistic at times like these. However, today there are 1.8 million girl members and 800,000 adult members of Girl Scouts in our country; 35,000 and 15,000 respectively in eastern Massachusetts. There is power in these numbers, and this keeps me hopeful about the future of our country.

Yours in Girl Scouting,

Patricia A. Parcellin
Chief Executive Officer
Girl Scouts of Eastern Massachusetts

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