Campus: CSU Los Angeles -- October 24, 2001

Cal State L.A. Answers Calls for Public Television Hotline

"KCET: A Chance to Talk, this is Karyl" was the mantra of the night as social workers, child development experts, and nurses came together on Tuesday, October 2, to staff a public television hotline. The hotline was the product of a collaborative effort between public television station KCET and the College of Health and Human Services at California State University, Los Angeles.

KCET aired this one-hour special about children and their reactions to the national crisis as part of the nightly Life & Times Tonight. The station's 36 telephones, usually used for pledge drives, were used by Cal State L.A. faculty members and affiliated professionals to provide consultation, support, and referrals to viewers.

In a three-hour period more than 240 calls were received. The duration of the calls ranged from a few minutes to over half an hour. The contents of the calls included concerns from parents and grandparents about what to say to their children; questions about the nature of Islamic beliefs; calls from children who were confused by the crisis; and individuals who needed to vent their feelings of anxiety, fear, and anger.

A nine-year-old boy called to talk about how he was afraid but also mad. The listener helped the boy understand that his feelings were normal and spoke with him about the difference between feeling and acting out one's feelings inappropriately. Another call came from an elderly woman who had lived in Germany during World War II. The sights and sounds of the World Trade Center tragedy evoked painful memories for her. The listener talked with her and primarily offered comfort and support. A Muslim parent called to ask what could she say to her children and spoke of her fears for herself and her family. The listener helped the caller to brainstorm her situation and connected her to appropriate resources in her community.

"The project was designed to provide people with a chance to talk about their feelings, concerns, and their children," stated Laurel Lambert, KCET's director of advertising and promotion. "The number of calls and the content of the calls all indicate how needed this service was. It was obvious to me, in observing the listeners at work, that these callers were getting the professional guidance and understanding they needed."

The listeners on the hotline came from the Cal State L.A.'s School of Social Work, Department of Child and Family Studies, and School of Nursing, or were affiliated professionals. "Our faculty members were very excited to participate in this project. It was an opportunity for us to contribute to a nationwide effort of recovery," stated Mitchell Maki, Associate Dean of the College of Health and Human Services. "We are very proud of our faculty's enthusiasm in serving the community," Maki said.

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