It has been said on so many occasions that it has almost become a cliche: the tsunami disaster in Asia defies belief and comprehension. Schools in the UK have already been very directly and tragically affected, as our reports on pages 12 and 20 demonstrate. Since so many young people have been killed or orphaned, pupils will be particularly sensitised to the trauma. Teachers, in turn, will have no easy task in dealing with the questions that arise - from the geological to the theological.
No doubt schools will be bombarded with well intentioned advice about what they can do to help, and no doubt they will respond with their usual discrimination. Already one Scottish based organisation, Mercy Corps, has targeted schools in a fund-raising appeal (www. mercycorps.org.uk).
Financial aid, however, is only part of the answer, and pupils may want to explore longer-lasting connections such as twinning, "adopting" or corresponding with schools in the afflicted areas.
Natural disasters are, sadly, not new in the developing world and few get sustained international media coverage; we must not be tempted to observe that this one may have stayed in the headlines largely because of the number of Western tourists involved.
None the less, the combined scale and horror of the tsunami, affecting so many countries, dwarfs all others. Death is one issue. But, as one report so eloquently put it in a way that will resonate with young people, life remains a problem for the living since "millions have lost everything - except their lives".