Explaining Terrorism to a Child

Parenting / 23 March, 2017 / Leo Bamford

Westminster Attack: How Do You Explain Terrorism To A Child?

Walking to pick my children up from school yesterday, just after the devastating news, I had a lump in my throat and I didn’t feel safe. I feel choked saying it but I didn’t. I don’t feel safe in my own town. Not many people do these days, no matter where they live.

A few people had been taking about the attack at school and one teacher had rushed home but I found myself worrying about how to talk to them about what had happened. Should I brush over it and not mention it at all? I decided that it’s best to be honest with our children, I always am, but sometimes you need to be very careful with how you put things. I’m still thinking about what I said I how I said it today and came across this brilliant piece on Sky from First News. A very sensible and helpful piece which I wish I had seen yesterday.

If you’re struggling to explain the Westminster attack to your children, here are a few things to do to help them understand.

1. Don’t try to turn off the news when there is bad news.

Sadly, in the technological world in which we live, adults are no longer in control of how children access information. News comes at us 24 hours a day from dedicated news channels, radio, the internet, and newspaper headlines.

Even if you manage to shield your children from all of that, things that happen in the news will be talked about in the school playground or lunch hall.

Better that your child is armed with the real facts than hearing exaggerated, second or third-hand versions. Information is better than misinformation.

2. Even if your child doesn’t mention bad news, don’t assume they are not troubled by it.

They may be worrying quietly inside.

Explain simply what has happened, taking care not to use sensationalised words that tend to be used by the national press.

3. First News covers good and bad news in the paper and on our daily online news channel, First News Live!

Use our content, made especially for children, as a platform to talk to children about the news.

It is always created to explain what has happened but to offer reassurance, too.

4. Remind them that there is much more good news than bad news happening.

And that there are many more good people than bad people.

5. Reassure them that they are safe.

Even though events like the one yesterday in London are scary, they are incredibly rare – which is why they are in the news.

Tell them that sadly three members of the public died in the incident but there were eight million people in London at the time.

The likelihood of being caught up in an event like this is so, so small, you can’t even do the sum to calculate the risk.

6. Remind children that the best way to stay safe is to take care in their own daily lives.

Children are more likely to have an accident in their own home than when they are out and about.

7. Hold them a little bit closer and for a little bit longer.

By Nicky Cox MBE, Editor-in-Chief of First News

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