Volume 95, Issue 10

Tuesday, September 18, 2001
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Bomb threat directed at Western

Terrorism: what should we tell the children?

UWO clubs pissed at "half"-assed deal

Old idea, same story for USC

Drugs, stolen bikes keep police busy

News Briefs

Terrorism: what should we tell the children?

By Kristina Lundblad
Gazette Staff

In the aftermath of the tragic events of Sept. 11, London professionals are offering advice to parents about what to tell the children.

"The main thing is to listen to your children and find out what their concerns are, like the safety of themselves and parents," said Barrie Evans, executive director of Madame Vanier Children Services. "They need to be reassured that they are safe."

The Thames Valley District School Board sent out a letter to staff and administrators on the day of the attacks containing similar advice.

"Students should be given lots of reassurances that they will be safe in their home, school and in their neighborhood," the letter said.

A similar letter was sent to parents that day, as well.

Tom Boniferro, acting co-ordinator of psychological services and co-chair for the Tragic Events Response Team of the Thames Valley District School Board, said the letters were sent in response to students' concerns.

When addressing the need to reassure students, Boniferro stressed the need to be very factual and concrete.

"There is a lot of reassuring that has to go on during this week," said Angie Zehr, a Woodstock parent of four children who said she finds her strength and reassures her children through her faith.

"My six year old prays for all of the mommies and daddies," she said.

"Parents should reassure children of their safety, but must be realistic," said Sid Freedman, a clinical psychologist in London. "You can't falsely minimize the danger of what has happened or what could happen."

Instead, parents should be available for discussion without swamping a young child with information, Freedman said.

With news coverage announcing possible suspects, there are many concerns children will respond with racial comments and discriminate against some members of the community.

"Talk to children about not associating these evil things with any particular group," Evans said. "It's important to judge everyone as individuals and not label [broadly]. This is an opportunity to teach kids more tolerance and understanding.

"You can say it was specific 'bad people' who did this, who are a part of a group of 'bad people,' but do not identify the group," he said.

Since children often follow their parents' lead, a child's view depends heavily on the parents' view, according to Evans.

"Parents must examine their own beliefs during such times," he warned.

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Copyright The Gazette 2001