How to Talk to Children About Violence

How to Talk to Children about Violence and Terrorism

It’s hard not to hear about violence in the news. What was once just scenes in a movie are now playing out on the evening news and social media. Students are doing their homework while parents are watching the evening news, or students and/or staff are talking about it in schools. While it is scary for adults, it is more so for children. So how do you talk about scenes of war, terrorist acts around the world and violence? Here are some resources to help staff talk to students about these issues:

  • National Association of School Physiologists (NASP) – Intentional acts of violence that hurt innocent people are frightening and upsetting. Children and youth will look to adults for information and guidance on how to react. Families and school personnel can help children cope first and foremost by establishing a sense of safety and security. (PDF)
  • American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry
  • American School Counselor Association – Additional talking points:
    • Try and keep routines as normal as possible. Kids gain security from the predictability of routine, including attending school.
    • Limit exposure to television and the news.
    • Be honest with kids and share with them as much information as they are developmentally able to handle.
    • Listen to kids’ fears and concerns.
    • Reassure kids that the world is a good place to be, but that there are people who do bad things.
    • Parents and adults need to first deal with and assess their own responses to crisis and stress.
    • Rebuild and reaffirm attachments and relationships.
  • American Psychological Association
  • How To Talk To Kids About Violence – Violence in our world today is all around our kids, in the media, in our communities and even in our schools. Our kids are exposed to images and stories that are unavoidable and can be very frightening for them.
  • Coping with Violence (naeyc)
  • For additional support, contact your school counselor