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Terrorism and Violence: How to talk to your children

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Terrorism and Violence

We may not be able to shield children from news of terrorism and violence, but we can talk with them about these things in ways that help them feel more secure and resilient.

Terrorism is almost as old as humankind’s existence, but our more recent experiences of horrific mass violence create new fears and uncertainties. The 9/11 attacks, Orlando shootings, the Boston Marathon bombings, terrorist attacks that occur throughout the world are things adults have a hard time understanding, much less explaining to children. But in today’s world and the non-stop news cycle, we must find appropriate ways to respond to children and youth about these matters.

The following resources are designed to help parents and other caregivers talk with children about news of terrorism and violence. Here’s a key thought to remember about this topic: Children’s reactions will differ by their age and stage of development. Keep this in mind as you talk with, and listen to, children from pre-school to high school.

School Violence — Resources to help prevent and recover from school shootings, bullying, and other school violence.

Terrorism and War: How to Talk to Children — American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry — Advice on holding thoughtful conversations with youth about terrorism, war, and violence. Key concepts from the academy are: Listen to Children, Answer Children’s Questions, and Provide Support.

Building Resilience to Manage Indirect Exposure to Terror — American Psychological Association — Tips for building your own and your family’s ability to manage stress and anxiety after learning about terrorism.

Helping Children Cope with Terrorism — National Association of School Psychologists — Tips for families and educators for helping children cope with news about terrorism.
Ten Steps for Peace Education — Alliance for Childhood — A brief guide for parents and teachers who seek to nurture the values of compassion and good will in their children’s lives.
Recommended Resources

Getting Through Tough Times — Tips on getting help, making financial decisions, dealing with stress, doing more with less, and parenting.

Dealing with Stress — Online courses and resources for understanding and coping with stress.

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