Talking to Kids About the Manchester Attack

By Christina Elston

Manchester attacksOn Monday night, May 22, a suicide bomber set off explosions that killed at least 22 people and injured 59 more outside Manchester Arena in Manchester, England. The crowd was there to see a concert by pop star Ariana Grande, so many of those injured and killed were kids and families.

Because of Grande’s popularity with tweens, it’s likely your kids have heard at least something about the attack. They might even be wondering whether something similar could happen at events they attend.

The National Center for School Crisis and Bereavement at USC has some helpful advice:

  1. Start by asking what your child knows about what happened. Then provide basic, age-appropriate information to correct any misunderstandings. Give what reassurance you can, explaining that our government and local police force work to prevent terror attacks from happening here, and that your child’s school and you are dedicated to keeping them safe.
  2. Limit media exposure. Once your child understands what has occurred, limit their exposure to graphic images and repetitive media coverage. Instead, spend time together as a family.
  3. Try to avoid placing blame. Explain to your child that terrorists do not represent a particular race, ethnicity or religious group.
  4. Just listen. There is no perfect thing to say in this situation, but children and teenagers still need to have someone they trust listen to their questions and feelings and be supportive.
  5. Help them find ways to help. There is little children can do to help the immediate victims of the attack in Manchester, but they can do something meaningful in the long term. Talk with them about opportunities to volunteer in the community or to help support a related cause.
  6. Watch for signs your child needs additional support. Let your child share that they are upset; it is a necessary step in coping with their feelings. However, if your child seems to be upset for several days or has trouble in school, at home or with friends,

For additional information, download the full brochure from the National Center for School Crisis and Bereavement here.

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