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Talking to Your Children About Violence

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In an age where social media and a 24-hour news cycle make avoiding exposure to stories of violence more difficult than in past eras, how do we talk to our children about what they're seeing or hearing? How do we answer their questions about the news headlines and footage they see or hear of violent events that don't directly affect them, like school shootings and terrorism? 

The short answer is, there's no one answer. The appropriate approach depends on a lot of factors, like a child's age and the particular violent situation.

"Younger children think of the world much more concretely," says licensed psychologist M. Dolores Cimini, director of UAlbany's Center for Behavioral Health Promotion and Applied Research. "[They] really don't have much of a sense of the future, and what somebody dying may mean."

Cimini advises that it's not necessary to go into too much detail about violent events they may have seen or heard about in the news or from peers. She says what's most important is "to reassure them that the world around them is safe and that we're doing the best we can to keep them safe."


Resources from PBS:

Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood - When Something Scary Happens

Sesame Street - Traumatic Experiences

Arthur - Resilience