It’s been a bad week in the news. There’s never really a good week in the news, because the main function of the news is to tell you all the bad stuff, but this week was particularly awful. As adults, we can put these stories into some kind of perspective. Usually. Not always successfully, on a week like this one. Because it’s really hard to shake off the sense that threat is everywhere and disaster waits around every corner.
If it’s hard for us, think how much harder it is for children to process disturbing news stories. Not just the stories, but the relentless images that accompany them – distraught people, photos of the victims, disaster zones, war zones, fires, crumbling buildings, the wounded, the dead.
I stopped watching television news long ago, partly because I don’t have time for it but also because the reporting was becoming too sensational and, frankly, too stupid. The radio has provided me with ample information of current events, and in a much less disturbing manner.
Until this week. Whenever my daughter was around I found myself lunging across the room to click off the radio whenever a newscast began… every hour on the hour. The way the story was being handled just made me sick, so I wasn’t sorry to give up on my radio news entirely. (What put me over the top was a snippet I heard before shutting it off, in which a reporter was asking someone if any of the child victims suffered.)
I’ve come across a couple of helpful links here for parents who want to reassure their kids about recent events – some advice on how to console your children and make them feel secure and safe.
Fred Rogers on Tragic Events in the News
PBS: Talking With Kids About News
Commonsense Media: Explaining the News to Our Kids
As for us, we’ve been on a media fast for this week of tragedy. When I shield my daughter from newscasts, am I preventing her from learning about the world? Only if you think the nightly news is an accurate and balanced portrayal of that world. Until our broadcasters show a little more taste and restraint when reporting on the tragedies of the day, I am glad to just leave the radio off.
In a previous post I wrote about what scares children of different ages, and touched upon the effect of news reports – What Scares Your Child.