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Explaining headlines

February 7 - 13, 2018
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Gulf Weekly Explaining headlines

News, love it or hate it, you can’t escape it because it’s everywhere. Be it ‘fake’ news, internet news, 24-hour news channels that are constantly on or headlines in newspapers, it seems that it is inescapable and because of that it’s what we talk about a lot of the time.

But it’s not just us, our children also pick up on news stories for the same reasons that we do and they talk about them too, it’s just that when a 10-year-old talks about Donald Trump or Kim Jong-Un, it’s not because they could possibly bring the world to an end with their chest-beating rhetoric, it because to them these world leaders are just funny, caricatures of people with silly haircuts.

The news, however, isn’t just full of pictures of royals from around the world or celebrities acting in just the right way to get them in the public eye, it also full of egregious stories of hate, tragedy and crime. 

We know that these things exist and the horrors and sadness that they bring, so, by the same token as mentioned before, so do our children, it’s just that they can play on children’s minds.

Tragedies, be they atrocities in Afghanistan, bombs in Manchester, right, or gun attacks in Las Vegas shake us all and, as adults, it’s difficult to comprehend that humans can act in such a way. 

It is doubly difficult, therefore, for children to understand or come to terms with.  Sometimes the gun shots heard on TV news are so like the gun shots heard in movies that it can be difficult to separate fact from fiction, particularly because both genre, news and movies are generally watched on the same screen in the home.

But, even though it is difficult for children to comprehend tragedy, it doesn’t mean that we as adults should ignore them and not give them the space to talk about these things if they need to. 

If your children are worried or are showing signs of anxiousness about such things, it is generally advised that you begin discussions by asking children what they know about events, or what they think they understand. 

Starting with a child’s comprehended knowledge of events often belies untruths or inaccuracies that usually start as rumours in the playground and might be adding to feelings of anxiousness or uncertainty. 

Building from a child’s understanding can allay a lot of fears, but it is also widely accepted that honesty is very important when discussing difficult subjects. 

Obviously the amount of detail given is dependent on a child’s age, but being open to questions and replying with the facts is the best way of enabling children to comprehend, process and come to terms with the type of news events no-one wants to discuss.

Finally, it is important to explain to children that stories only become newsworthy because they happen rarely and are so very different to our day-to -day events, that way they can put into perspective the reality of things like that happening to them and focus more positively on what is important in their lives.







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