They see it on the news, it is all over
How do we talk to kids about all the violence in the world today?
I think that one of the most important things to consider is that we cannot, and they should not be making stereotypical generalizations and assumptions about who terrorists are, who are terrorists.
In Peterborough, Ontario, a Mosque was already intentionally set on fire, and a Muslim woman picking up her children from school in Toronto was attacked by two men, telling her “to go back home....you terrorist”.
The blatant ignorance on social media, has Muslim friends of mine shocked, as even people they thought they knew well, make racist and ignorant statements about immigration and refugees.
This is the time to speak to the children and youth about tolerance, acceptance and speaking out against violence. As we have seen time and time and time again......for years since WWII....fighting does not eradicate fighting or the threat of violence. It only fuels the fire.
It is time to speak to them about the severe bias of the media...as terrorist acts kill innocent human beings in multiple countries all over the world, and we very rarely hear or see mention of them.
Take this time to promote humanity. To challenge them to challenge what they see, hear and know about cultures, countries, the government and these wars that go on and on......to absolutely no avail.
We have to speak louder for peace and acceptance.....there are no more excuses for being silent anymore...
I wrote a piece about Righteous Rebellion earlier last week that you might be interested in speaking about....
I have pasted the link below. All the best!
Great question and definitely something, as caring
adults, we need to address.
It's very difficult when online gaming is enjoyed by many young people and I can appreciate the escapism that it offers.
What we do know is that a child's developing brain may not not have the capacity (age dependant) to distinguish between real & imagined.
We also know that expressing ourselves in violent ways most often leads to hurt - whether that be of self or others. And many times other negative consequences can occur.
Role modelling loving kindness is a place to start. We live in a violent world where road rage is boasted about.
Giving young people the opportunity to dream and share their hopes and wishes for the future is necessary. Fostering hope is the key.
Great conversation starter! Thanks.
You might also like to take a look at this link — Eds.
This is a challenging question Leigh but by not
discussing this, is like ignoring the elephant in the room.
I teach CYC at Ryerson University and have brought this up in my classes. Not to discuss the politics of it all but rather how this violence affects the children and youth we work with as well as many of our students. We need to ensure that all young people have an outlet to discuss their concerns and fears.
At the same time, we need to be sensitive to disenfranchised youth who may be targeted through social media and detect these young people because they have the potential to turn to inappropriate groups in order to feel welcome.
As CYCs we need to take a leadership role. Even though at this time there are no easy answers and this may seem like a band aid solution, it is all we have at this time. However, serious questions are starting to be asked and that will hopefully lead to some answers.
Good question, Leigh.
Of course for many kids we need to reduce the influence of media and images that can be overwhelming or traumatic based on their age and development.
For many we can't avoid or prevent what they will hear from others, at school, or on the streets.
Perhaps our overarching message needs to be:
"Some people in our world do horrible things. Those things usually start when we don't value and respect one another. Thankfully you and me - and many others - are here to do good and help others rather than hurt them."
Great contributions everyone on this topic so far.
Violence is not only in the world but in our backyard, as one example
mentioned. It is even in the homes of young people; further, it may even
be taught through cultural beliefs.
I share a relevant experience that has immediately come to mind. About a year ago, I was punched by a young male child in an elevator (for asking him to stop hitting the emergency button in an elevator) while his father not only watched, but then validated that it was okay for the child to hit a woman and that only he, the father, can talk to his son. For me, it reiterated the existence of cultural differentiation tied to stories heard of women escaping violence within their own homes; sometimes with their children and sometimes not. When we find ourselves in moments like these, like any other, we can step back (indeed on this occasion I was initially in shock - so it does take continual practice),
gain a sense of calm, and carefully chose our words
in speaking up against violence, while also being an example of peace.
Regardless of our professional or personal day-to-day interactions, we
become participants. How will we engage ? My hope is that we can
continually "practice what we preach"...
Regardless of form and degree, violence is violence. One of the measures I found most useful is engaging young people as participants in educational dialogue and practice of peaceful measures. It can be pro-active, in-the-moment, and for reflection. Talking with, as opposed to talking to, makes a difference as well. As young learners, they take these values with them wherever they go and into the future as mindful members of society.
Just a note that I think that we have to be very
careful with generalizing violence into a “cultural” issue.
Cultures do not practice violence, individuals do.
In the wake of attacks against Muslims very close to
home since the Paris attacks, I believe we must be very conscious
of what messages we are sending to our young people, and how.
In awareness, understanding and acceptance,
I have been following this conversation about how to
discuss terrorism with young people with great interest. I would like to
share some perspectives, beginning with my own as a Roma woman living in
Canada/on Turtle Island.
For myself, my family, and many Roma community
members terrorism has been directed toward us via colonial violence and
social and systemic racism. For example, young Roma people like myself
grow up knowing the importance of hiding one's racial and cultural
identity in order to avoid violence and exclusion. While watching the
Syrian refugee crisis, we know that some Canadian citizens' "fear" of
accepting new peoples is really grounded in mainstream teachings of
racism, colonialism, and paternalism.
Harper's government knew this as well and worked
hard to stoke these fires by introducing an act asking citizens to
report "barbaric cultural practices". Many of my Indigenous friends have
publicly denounced this act and bill C-51 while reminding Canadians that
the Indian Act excuses daily terrorism and human rights violations all
over these lands.
The culture I am afraid of is the one that paints a
picture of a peacekeeping and socially just Canada. Within my family we
spend time talking with my niece and nephew about the importance of
digging deeper and relating our own experiences to those of other
peoples in order to discover that many peoples with a history of hurt
choose love. As they get older we will continue to layer these talks
with the roots of hurt. We will talk about how some choices may be false
choices, for example young people living with many oppressions do not
likely choose to "be radicalized", and we will discuss how we might work
against social injustices - the oppressions we face and those faced by
peoples on these lands and all over the world.
I believe that children and young people are capable
of understanding and relating to harms. We owe them the support of
teaching, learning, and acting with them.
Very well said Stef.
Your quote “the culture I am afraid of is the one
that paints a picture of a peacekeeping and socially just Canada” sums
up a lot, for me anyhow...
Living near Canada’s largest reserve, Six Nations,
and reading and responding to news articles in local papers about
Indigenous issues, paints a very sad and horrifying picture.....one that
shows an utter lack of understanding, education about, awareness or
acceptance of the people of Six Nations, Indigenous culture as a whole,
and people like my husband.....adopted out in the 70’s to a non-native
family....just now beginning to become even the slightest bit aware of
However, these ignorant comments and mindsets
cannot, and do not represent the whole. This is why I truly
believe that looking at “the whole”, at groups, or cultures is both
non-productive and damaging.
While systemic issues are real and happening all
around us, we must continually strive to look at ourselves, speak to our
young people and others around us to bring up our future leaders who
represent understanding, acceptance and awareness, as well as to
challenge mindsets and one sided perspectives. There are many who have
chosen this, despite their “group”, “label”, or circumstance, and who
are working to speak up and against the violence and hatred.
Categorizing and generalizing perpetually oppresses,
on both sides, and we must as individuals, speak to the individuals
around us to foster growth and change and peace.
Every group, culture, sector or religion is made up
of individuals who see the world, and what they are taught or
experience, in a different way. They make different choices, and
live in different ways.
To go back to your quote....I believe that it is not
only inaccurate, but irresponsible to paint Canada as a whole, as a just
and peacekeeping country....what we are so globally known for,
especially in light of decades of hidden and warped information about
horrific acts towards the Indigenous people of it’s land, as well as
recent acts of violence towards Muslims in particular in the last few
Your point shows how important it is to look within
ourselves as individuals, see what we are doing to make our homes and
neighbourhoods and communities better places for all, and to encourage
and empower those around us to do the same.
Thank you for shedding light on this from your
perspective. We have to keep talking about this!!!
I’m attaching a link to a piece I wrote in relation
to this a few weeks ago.....
Well said Stef,
You make such an essential point. The colonial and
imperialist violence perpetrated by the western powers are ongoing with
white supremacist culture clearly embedded in all the mechanisms of
These inconvenient truths are airbrushed and
purposefully concealed by initiatives such as the 'war on terror'. Sadly
those that speak truth to power have been assassinated, sectioned,
imprisoned and branded as delusional conspiracy theorists.
This is why I believe that we owe it to those we
work with to articulate the political realities of our shared histories
and speak truth to power. It is never too early for a child to
understand that predominantly rich white men will stop at nothing to
maintain their wealth and power. They will use all the mechanisms of
socialisation to subjugate those that are Other and work tirelessly to
nullify any progressive person from the outside that manages to slip
through their defences, Obama is a clear case in point.
We all need to radicalise. do not let the oppressors dictate the language. I am proud to be a radical and I refuse to censor who I am in this orchestrated climate of fear.
Firstly, I think when a child asks about the violence in the world today, it is not just curiosity but also because they want to make sure they are safe from the chaotic events happening around the world.
Secondly, I would see how old the child is before bringing up the topic. If a child is too young to understand what terrorism or violence is, I wouldn’t even bring it up.
I would also be aware when watching the news or
checking social media. You can try to either watch the news or listen to
the radio when children are not around. But we also know we can’t limit
children from social media completely. Also, children can learn about
these things through their friends and peers at school as well.
If children came across the topic of violence around
the world, sometimes they have difficulty understanding what is going
on. It would be good to have a conversation with them and see what they
do understand and to correct any misinformation. We should explain why
violence occurs; could be something as simple as they don’t respect and
value each other. As well as explaining that not everyone is bad and
that most people are good and trying to help.
I have found this parenting power article online
that would be very helpful in guiding us how to talk to children about
scary news that they hear:
I feel that children need to have a safe place to ask questions and discuss what they hear and have their concerns heard.
Indeed, oppression and violence occurs everywhere. It comes in many forms. Regardless of topic, each one of us may have a story to tell, which is part of our personal experience. I am grateful we have a place where we can connect and openly share of ourselves, as well as listen to the experiences of others. It can be a place where we can step back and forgo our own memories, perceptions, thoughts and opinions in order to truly hear another person. We may even be able to feel another person's pain, joy, struggles, challenges, truimphs, etc.. and it gives us a place to reflect. I love hearing from others as each person's journey gives a different perspective, a lens into the world. Having travelled abroad and living amongst the nationals, as well as my current home/workplace as a multi-cultural society has opened my eyes to many things, and I am continually learning about the world and its people. Stef, thank you for sharing a part of you through your fears and story. Our discourse is part of our journey, and one that we can all learn from and grow.
As we look at issues of violence, or any other topic that speaks to harm, I am reminded that we cannot change the past, yet, we can alter the future. Every point of contact we have with another person gives us the opportunity to make a difference. One of the questions that often comes to my mind is how to love. This enquiry not only speaks to the today, but in the moment of each day. I'd like to think it all begins and ends with us; meaning, how did I, Mary Anne, love today. And then I start again tomorrow. Even though I could educate and even promote "love", if I chose to do so, in the end, I cannot make a person love. Authentic love comes willingly from the heart. Love is also an experience. When I was taking a children's rights course, our text spoke to me; in particular, a quote from the book Pedagogy of the oppressed by Paulo Friere (2011): "Dialogue cannot exist, however, in the absence of a profound love for the world and for people" ; subsequently, he speaks to the act of love as a commitment which liberates oppression (p. 89). As a look upon my day, I can also actively take my passions into the world to make a difference. Each one of us will feel moved to make a difference in their own way.
Taking it back to the CYC profession, as we know, children and youth can be under oppression in many ways. The need to belong, to matter, and to be loved is very important in their developmental health and wellbeing. Freeing them from oppression, also means to support them in figuring out how to love themselves and other people. In this manner, they can be aware of their place in the world and become peaceful and caring members of society.