U.S. Education Secretary Rod Paige arrived in New York City Monday to offer immediate federal help for counseling to schoolchildren who were traumatized by last week's terror attack.
Mr. Paige toured the area of the attack with New York Schools Chancellor Harold Levy. Two schools near the disaster site were heavily damaged but all the students were successfully evacuated last Tuesday. However, many students around the city are suffering from psychological problems and Mr. Paige said the federal government is providing $4 million to pay for counseling services.
Mr. Paige indicated that more money may be available if needed and said the psychological effects of the terror on children could continue for many months. Mr. Paige said, "From our other experiences with violence, not of this magnitude, we could be months down the road before we see the full impact of this played out by some children. So the counseling, guidance and nurturing of our kids is even more important now. Parents, teachers and others who come in contact with children should make a special effort to talk with them and listen."
Schools Chancellor Levy thanked Mr. Paige for the help and said the experts have told him the most important things are to allow children to express their feelings and give them honest answers to questions.
Mr. Levy told some emotional stories about the minutes immediately after Tuesday's attack. As one teacher was leading a small child to safety away from the World Trade Center, the child noticed people jumping from the upper floors. Misunderstanding the situation, the youngster said to the teacher, "why are those birds on fire?