As the suspect in the Lewiston mass shooting remained at large Thursday, many schools across Maine canceled classes for the day and shared resources on how to explain the situation to young children and teens.

Robert R. Card II is wanted in connection with Wednesday night’s shootings in Lewiston that killed at least 18 people and wounded at least 13, according to Gov. Janet Mills and other officials who gathered Thursday morning for a press conference at Lewiston City Hall.

Few school departments opted to remain open as the manhunt for Card continued.

The Maine Department of Education emailed a newsletter with resources for families and teachers on how to explain gun violence to students, which several school districts shared with staff members and students.

“Students and colleagues will be affected in different ways,” according to the newsletter. “We don’t know how this event has affected people, directly or indirectly.”

The state’s information explained how elementary, middle school and high school students have different levels of recognition of the event and stand to be affected differently by the shootings.


When talking with students, it is important to reassure them they are safe and have people with whom they can speak.

Many schools are making resources available to students, including guidance counselors and social workers. Parents should also be aware of how their children are dealing with the situation.

Elementary-age and middle school students benefit best from simple, brief information, which should be balanced with reassurance that students’ homes are safe and people — teachers, law enforcement officers and family members — are protecting them.

“Give examples of school safety, like reminding children about exterior doors being locked and child monitoring efforts on the playground and emergency drills practiced during the school day,” the state DOE recommended for elementary-age students.

Most high school students will have a greater grasp of what happened in Lewiston, and might offer suggestions for how to prevent another event from happening. The state DOE recommended emphasizing the roles students have in “maintaining safe communities and schools,” and advising them to communicate any safety concerns to school administrators, parents and guardians.

Anne Heros, executive director of the Center for Grieving Children in Portland, urged parents to be centered and calm when speaking to children about the shootings and to listen closely to children’s questions and worries.


“Everyone responds differently to these situations, and it lasts longer for some people depending on their prior stories,” Heros said. “As a parent, you could have other trauma in your life that might come back up and be revisited. There’s something to say about … self-care. Like they tell you on the airline, put your own mask on first.”

Heros advised that parents step away temporarily if they are not ready to talk to their children about the mass shooting. She also advised parents begin such conversations by having their children ask questions to gauge their understanding of the shootings.

Limiting screen time and access to the news is important, Heros said, especially while there is unconfirmed information circulating on social media. She recommended diverting attention to nondigital activities, such as playing a board game or doing an art project.

“We say Maine is ‘The Way Life Should Be,’ right?” Heros said. “There is a bit of a shadow over it today. Everyone is invested in this. While the (shooter) is out there, everyone is anxious, and the whole important thing is to limit what you are going to do before this person is found. Play games, board games — something that will get your mind off of it.”

The state DOE and other groups provided additional information on several mental health services, including:

•  “Talking to Children about the Shooting,” from the National Child Traumatic Stress Network.

• Teens and young adults can text (207) 515-8398 to connect with other youth who can help them manage challenges, from noon to 10 p.m. daily. The service is affiliated with with The National Alliance on Mental Illness.

• Educators in need of support can contact the FrontLine WarmLine from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., seven days a week, by calling 207-221-8196 or texting 898-211.

•  Calling 988 if in crisis to speak to a trained crisis specialist at any hour. Specialists can also respond over chat at

Related Headlines

Comments are not available on this story.