by Marsha Rakestraw
When we read headlines like: “Paris massacre: At least 128 killed in gunfire and blasts” and “Mali hotel terror attack” we can be overwhelmed with grief, rage, despair, fear, and hopelessness.
But as adults we have at least some shred of coping mechanisms and an ability (if not the motivation) to understand the deeper issues of such a tragedy.
How do such horrific events affect our young people? How do they view themselves, the world, and their futures after such violence and destruction? How can we help them learn to cope and to gain a deeper understanding (as appropriate) of the issues involved?
Here are a few resources that can help educators and parents.
Psychologist Marilyn Price-Mitchell offers suggestions for talking about terrorism with young people and exploring some of the deeper issues, such as justice versus retribution.
The New York Times has posted resources for exploring the attacks in Paris with students in age-appropriate ways.
Facing History has shared a few strategies for exploring events and issues around what happened in Paris.
And the Choices Program has created a Resource Guide on the Terrorist Attacks in Paris to help teachers guide students in exploring these issues.
We can also focus on more heartening and inspiring stories, such as this video of a father in Paris comforting his young son after the attacks. Or this video of a blindfolded Muslim man accepting hugs from Parisians.
There are also many resources for talking in general with young people about tragedies and other sensitive issues. See our blog post here with recommendations.
It’s vital that we protect children, while also empowering them to be informed, compassionate citizens who are raised to be solutionaries striving for a just, peaceful world for all.