How to talk to children about violence – The Hindu – The Hindu

Since the body of a seven-year-old girl, who was allegedly molested and murdered by a man in her apartment complex, was found in Mugalivakkam, Priya Lalith’s two young daughters have been distressed. “My elder daughter who is 11 asked questions about the girl’s death and my nine-year-old was also disturbed. They both hoped that the girl would be found when she went missing,” said the resident of East Tambaram.

Another parent, S. Karthika Devi said that on Saturday, all her colleagues had brought their children along to the workplace. “Usually, they would be left at home, but not this week — there’s a lot of apprehension,” she said.

Experts say it is very important to talk to children about incidents of violence that are reported in the media.


 

“When there is news about violence, adults in the family would talk about it. A lot of graphic images do the rounds, which children may see. Children are very sensitive to parents’ distress even if it has nothing to do with them,” said Vidya Reddy of Tulir, Centre for the Prevention and Healing of Child Sexual Abuse.

“It is important to talk to children with temperateness — parents must not transfer their fear to them, but at the same time it is essential to put safeguards in place. This is not just talking to your child about safety but primarily about measures such as CCTV cameras, ensuring you child is safely supervised and for the community to look out for one another,” she said.

Shiva Prakash Srinivasan, a child psychiatrist associated with the Schizophrenia Research Foundation, said it was important to talk to children about incidents of violence and educate them about being safe.

“Parents should filter the news for children — there is no need to share all the details with them. Explain that something bad has happened and what can be done to stay safe. With older children, find out what they know and tone down the negative. With younger children, boundaries must be clear especially in case of meeting strangers and taking things from them. Always be aware of where your child is and let children know that they always need the family’s approval before associating with anybody,” he said.

Minoo Aggarwal, principal, DAV Public School, Velachery, said that parents and teachers should be role models for children. “It is important to teach children ways to express their emotions, and especially give them alternative ways to express violent feelings. We should also teach them compassion — and explain that compassion begins at home,” she said.

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