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Discussing Hate in the Headlines

1. Take a deep breath

2. Find reliable information

3. Establish emotional equillibrium

Achieve emotional balance before interacting with your child about
acts of violence and the emotional responses you’re weighing.

Although you may personally feel devastated by the event, when talking
with young people, strive to remain calm and not overly emotional so they
feel comfortable expressing their feelings. Your goal is to reassure them
and not communicate fear.

4. Identify your child’s prior knowledge

Questions you might ask:
- How do you feel about what’s happening in the world?
- What are you or your friends thinking and talking about in terms of
the world situation?
- Are you and your friends talking about what happened in ________?
I’d be really interested in hearing about what you think. Let me know if
you want to talk.
Clarify their understanding:
- That’s interesting, can you tell me more about that?
- What do you mean by…?
- How long have you been feeling…?
Listen to them and base what you say on their interpretation, instead of your 1 of 3
5. Assess your child’s emotional state and maturity
Filter information accordingly

Young Children Mature Children

Answer questions or concerns Present the basic facts

- assuage fears - Prepare and explain
- clear up confusions and key vocabulary
misconceptions - Allow children to
- avoid over-explaining express themselves
- Be prepared for
Look for changes in behavior:
discussions of morality
- increased interest in war-related play
- uncharacteristic behavior, like
Include appropriate
increased difficulty with separation
relevant historical context.
or sleep
Use people first language ・ Avoid generalizing groups of people ・ Listen carefully

6. Emphasize your child’s safety

When children hear or see a scary event on the news, they often relate it to
themselves and may feel directly threatened. Reassuring your child that
they are safe and that this news is not happening here should help them
feel secure. Reviewing and maintaining routines can be comforting as well.

For example, you might explain what time you will be home, who will pick
your child up from school and what your plans are for the weekend.

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7. Highlight Hope
Highlighting the people who helped the victims and their families during
these incidents as well as those who supported them afterwards is a great
way to lead the conversation back to hope.

You may also want to think together about something you want to do to
take action. This can take the form of showing you care and building
solidarity with the impacted people or community (e.g. sending a card or
a donation) or together, get involved in activist activities that address bias
and discrimination. Young people need to know that acts of injustice are
unacceptable and that they can make a difference in their community and
world in creating positive change.


It’s okay to say “I don’t know” and seek additional information:

- “I don’t know the answer to that and I’m not sure anyone does. I do know, however,
that many thoughtful people throughout the world are working hard to understand
this issue.”
- “That’s an interesting question, and I don’t know the answer,” then, “Let me do some
research and I’ll get back to you,” or “How can we find that out together?”

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