Hate Online, Real-World Violence, and How to Talk to Kids About Them
Tragically, we find ourselves in a position to talk to our kids about mass shootings regularly. Some of the shooters' motivations aren't entirely clear, and sometimes—like the ones of the shooter in New Zealand—they are expressly stated in written and recorded messages of hate. What can we, as parents, do to help our kids make sense of these horrific events?
First, it's important to recognize the role online platforms and social media play not only as sources of the hate people encounter, but also as a means to spread those messages, encourage participation, and even share livestreams of the shootings themselves. If you have a little kid who hasn't seen or heard about the incident, there's no reason to bring it up; however, it's always great to plant the seeds of acceptance, peaceful interaction, and accurate information about all kinds of people. Older kids and tweens may have heard something, but it's best to let them take the lead so you aren't the one to give more details than they're ready for. Teens likely know what's happened, so you can make sure they have accurate and complete information and find out how they're making sense of it all. Of course, in all cases, we want to offer hope: Sometimes that comes by taking actions to help which can empower kids—and parents—to spread some light in times of darkness.