By BEV THEIL / Columnist
Posted Jul 3, 2020 at 12:01 AM
Our children are seeing and reading confusing things on various media. On the television, on Facebook postings, in emails and on Twitter there are pictures of adults marching, shouting, destroying property, pulling down statues; there are also written postings older children can read. The messages range from thoughtful observations to hate-filled rants and everything in between.
From the child’s perspective it appears the adults are out of control. They are in conflict with each other and have diametrically different messages. Children are deeply affected when they see adults out of control. Make sure your child knows you are in control and will care for them.
Media, for better or worse, brings the world into our homes. A small child who sees a building burning amid a crowd of people on television cannot tell if this is in their town or across the country. This may lead to difficulty in sleeping or a fear of going outside.
Talk to your children to help them understand they are safe. Be honest about what is going on. If they are old enough to understand tell them people are very upset because a man was killed. That he was a Black man and that because of something called racism Black men and women are more likely to be killed than white men and women.
Explain racism simply to young children. Tell them that racism is when we do not treat other people equally because of the color of their skin. They can be very good people and they can be just like us, but some people judge them on the color of their skin, not the goodness in their character.
For older children, have a more in-depth conversation. Talk about the Civil Rights movement. Find film clips of marches and speeches from the movement. But, make sure you show not just the inspiring speeches but also the beatings, the dog attacks and the lynchings.
Make sure your children understand those they see on the media who are burning and looting are not true protesters. True protesters are marching to raise awareness and demand change and equality for all. The looters are just taking advantage of a large crowd of people to give them cover to commit illegal acts. In fact, one such person when asked by media why he was looting said he was taking advantage of the size of the crowd and the absence of police.
Judy Wortham Wood of the Mental Health and Recovery Board of Wayne and Holmes Counties recently shared with me some information from the Ohio Mental Health Network for School Success. The following sites will help you speak with the children you know about racism.
How to talk to kids about racism, racial violence and police brutality https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2020/05/31/how-talk-kids-rac…
Black Emotional and Mental Health (BEAM) Collective https://www.beam.community/tool-kits-education
Glazer Children’s Museum (resources for educators, parents, kids related to talking about the events) https://glazermuseum.org/socialjustice?fbclid=IwAR3mJPyT_4Tkdjz8K-annxE…
Something Happened in Our Town — Children’s book about racial injustice. For an animated reading go to https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lcOhOFGcWm8
Responding to Difficult Moments – resources providing strategies for anticipating and responding to difficult discussions and reactions http://crlt.umich.edu/multicultural-teaching/difficult-moments
Only through understanding can we eradicate racism. Help your child understand.
Mrs. Theil is a child advocate in Wayne and Holmes counties. She can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org