What to tell the children

I am sure that ours is not the only household with a small child that is pondering what to do about the news of the killing of Osama bin Laden. You cannot shield children from life’s realities, but most parents want to choose how and when they expose their children to these. The radio, television, and print media have been awash with stories and pictures. Many do not seem appropriate for very young eyes or ears. But, if you have to deal with such a deluge of coverage you need to think hard about what to say and what stance to take.

Many children will be concerned about the frequent mention of killing and that this was ‘justice’. They may also have to deal with mixed messages about how appropriate it seems to be to celebrate the killing of another person. But, children will be very concerned to know whether they are now safer than they were before. Many children do not let concerns about safety bother them for very long once they are into things like play. They may get a sense of concern from the expressions they see on the faces of adults.

While the US government ponders what pictures to release, I ponder what pictures to try to censor. I do not hold out much hope that I can succeed, because there are too many means to get information. I do not watch TV much but was fully aware through Twitter of the announcement of the killing.

I asked my first grader if the topic had been discussed at school and how it had been handled. She told me that it was not discussed in class but some children had talked about it at recess. So, is the way of school information. She told me that she listened but did not say anything, and that her class mates were more concerned about how safe they now were. I do not expect the killing to be the cause of nightmares but it may become so. Children have vivid imaginations and curious minds can create many events.

Children may be more believing than their parents, so may not have any thoughts about the proof and evidence that shows all that was said to have been done was done. But, over time, they may get to questioning what they have read or been told.

So, as bedtime approaches, I hope the story requested will not be one of the news reports about the bin Laden killing. That would be too much captivation for my liking. I would rather a request for the reading of a report of last Friday’s royal wedding. đŸ˜‰


About The Grasshopper

Professional international economist, recently retired from an international organization. I use blogging as a way of organizing my ideas and thoughts about a range of topics. I was born in Jamaica, and spent many years being educated, living, and working in the UK. I lived in the USA for a few decades, and worked and travelled abroad extensively. My views have a wide international perspective. Father of girls. Also, married to an economist.
This entry was posted in Children, Digital age, Human relationships, Media, News and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to What to tell the children

  1. Martin de Reus says:

    Hi Dennis,

    One of my friends posted the following on FB:

    “I mourn the loss of thousands of precious lives, but I will not rejoice in the death of one, not even an enemy. Returning hate for hate multiplies hate, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars. Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.” –Martin Luther King, Jr.

    Apparently this is a fake quote from mlk – fake quote perhaps but not fake sentiment and certainly preferable to explain to the girls.

  2. Pingback: Jamaica, U.S.A.: News & Children · Global Voices

  3. Pingback: Jamaica, U.S.A.: News & Children @ Current Affairs

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