Talking to Kids About Violence
Processing events such as the attack Las Vegas that killed over 50 and injured hundreds more including many child victims is hard enough for adults.
It is even more challenging for children, who are often absorbing the same information as the adults in their lives but don’t have the context on how to react.
The key for children in any of these situations is reassuring them about the safety and protection they do have in the world while acknowledging their very understandable feelings.
Keep in mind that they are picking up information through the media and other sources, not just family. Children who become fearful of what could happen to them or their parents tend to internalize those feelings.
Here are some approaches you can take when addressing your child’s fear, anxiety or questions:
- Be careful not to invalidate your kids’ feelings by ignoring them or playing down what they are saying. Listen to them.
- Reassure them that there are many people protecting them, including their parents and police officers, to make sure bad things don’t happen to them.
- Consider limiting as much as possible your children’s exposure to media reports.
Also, you cannot discount how your reaction as an adult to tragedies such as these affects your child.
Adults feeling anxiety over attacks – especially in this case, an apparent ambush – can tend to make overarching statements such as, “you can’t go out in public” or “you can’t go anywhere.”
Those statements often can solidify your children’s own fears, so it pays to be careful about how you characterize your fears in front of the kids.
In many ways, what it comes down to is that kids will take their cues from their parents and caregivers. Remember that your words carry weight with children, so reassuring statements will have impact. And remind yourself that our children are watching, and that how we act can affect their reaction.
SecureEd is a team of highly trained former US Secret Service Agents who design and train staff members on an emergency and critical incident response plan customized for their school, child care center, or business. SecureEd offers site assessments, emergency preparedness plans and critical incident training to schools and child care centers, corporate organizations and churches and faith based institutions. Learn more about SecureEd.
About Jason Russell, Founder/President/CEO of SecureEd:
Jason is the founder of Secure Education Consultants, LLC (SEC) and is its President and Chief Executive Officer. He is responsible for overseeing all company operations, product development, and quality assurance. SEC is headquartered in Grand Rapids, Michigan and serves 100’s of clients in over 30 states.
Prior to founding SEC, Jason served with the United States Secret Service as a Special Agent. During his tenure, Jason was involved in protective and investigative assignments as well as protecting the President and Vice President along with all living former Presidents. In addition to protection assignments, Jason served as the Secret Service Lead Instructor at the International Law Enforcement Academy, a Physical Fitness Coordinator, and on the Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force.
Jason began his law enforcement career with the Lansing Police Department (LPD). While with the LPD, Jason was recognized with a lifesaving award from Mothers Against Drunk Driving. Jason has worked on the US Marshals Fugitive Task Force, and various multi-jurisdictional enforcement initiatives.
Jason is a frequent Keynote and content speaker at conferences on the topics of emergency preparedness, active shooter response, and safety and security process. Jason additionally has taught criminal investigation and security courses as an adjunct professor.
Born in Kalamazoo, Michigan, Jason holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Criminal Justice from Western Michigan University and his Master’s Degree in Criminal Justice and Security Management from Michigan State University.