Explaining The Paris Attacks To Children



Listening to my seven-year-old speak on news reports from the Nov. 13 attacks in Paris was one giant reality check. It went sort of like this: “a bunch of people were shot and killed in Paris,” he said and waited for a comforting response. I paused. Nothing serves as an eye-opener like hearing violence out of your child’s mouth.

But avoiding the horrific matter is impossible. Interviews about the terrorist attacks in Paris and Facebook profiles changing to the France flag flooded the media once news hit of the 129 deaths and the 300 people injured.

We all wish to be able to keep a harsh and scary reality at bay. However, when searching for answers myself, I found that professionals suggest that if we don’t talk to our children someone else will. It’s better for them to hear it from a parent than to form a distorted picture in their mind of what happened or what could happen from their peers or worse in their imaginations.


We live in the times of church burnings, school shooting, and attacks on our religious freedoms — the era of 9/11 after terrorist attacks weren’t as common. According to MSN news, parents need to find the time to discuss these issues surrounding racism, religion, radicalism, morals, politics and etc. with children.

A writer for Time since 2003, Vivienne Walt, who lives in Paris wrote: “And so on Sunday, an email popped into my inbox, from the directors of my child’s school, addressed to all parents. ‘More than ever in the face of this violence and barbarity it is essential to lend an ear to our children, to play the role of educator and to discuss the attacks and answer their questions,’ said the letter, which described Friday’s killings as a “savage” attack on “our city, our country, the symbols and values of our Republic.”

I could only imagine how the children of Paris must feel as they try to comprehend it all. They were seen in pictures on the streets placing flowers and crying. Schools also recommend parents be “calm and attentive” when counseling them to help them deal with fears and to let them know that fear is normal. From a Christian mom’s perspective, it is also a time to teach them of the power of prayer.

One example — a popular illustration spoken about in various articles called the Leaflet — makes understanding terrorism, radicalism and France’s role in conflicts in the Middle East easier for children by making it into cartoon form. The children’s magazine is filled with questions from French children, Noe, Julie and Antoine, asking about “images in the press, whether France is at war, and whether terrorists will come to children’s houses.”


Reportedly, military commanders are having trouble grasping it. But kids need someone to put the situation in perspective.

It’s also important for parents to recognize the importance of teaching children to accept one another’s religions and to not be afraid of them. Since Islam is practiced in everyday society they should be able to distinguish between Islamic terrorists and Islam itself, who practice religion peacefully. But as far as we all know about the issue, we are still trying to make sense of it all.

Source: MSN, Time


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