Talking to children about terrorism

When randomly violent things happen in places that are familiar to children, their fear and anxiety can be very real, even if they do not mention it. After the shocking events in central London this week, Nicky Cox CBE, editor of the dedicated children’s news media, First News, offered this advice to parents, which may also be useful to those working with children.

  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, the things that happen ion the news will be talked about in the school playground or lunch-hall. Better that your child us 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 national press.
  3. First News covers good and bad news; in the paper and on our daily 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 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. Event though events like the one in London this week are scary, they are incredibly rare, which is why they are in the news. Tell them that, sadly, although three members of the public and a police office died in the incident, there were 8 million people in London at the time. The likelihood of getting 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.

Nicky Cox CBE,
Editor, First News

Main photo: Fabrizio Sciami
Inset photo: rosefirerising

Author: Adrian Voce

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