Hate, Violence, and Trauma: Talking with Children
Hateful and violent rallies of white supremacists are news we cannot ignore. As with the 2016 killings in an Orlando, Florida nightclub, the 2015 murders in a Charleston, South Carolina black church, the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing, and school shootings in Newtown, Connecticut and so many other places where acts of violence have occurred, one need not have been present at the scene to feel unnerved, angry, or shaken.
While action is a valid response, as parents and caregivers we must also find ways to help our children process what is happening emotionally and spiritually.
These resources, developed or suggested by Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA) staff, may help you, your family, and others in your faith community.
- Making Meaning after Disaster (PDF) by Sarah Gibb Millspaugh, a Tapestry of Faith workshop for congregations, posted by the UUA Resource Development Office
- Together in Faith (PDF): Finding Home in Times of Trauma or Disaster by Tracey L. Hurd, posted by the UUA Resource Development Office
Meditations and Readings
- Beyond Absence: A Treasury of Poems, Quotations, and Reading on Death and Remembrance, collected by Edward Searl (Skinner House, 2005). See a prayer by Victoria Safford, page 117; "Love Abides," by Barbara Pescan, page 144; and "We trust that beyond the absence," by Anonymous, page154.
- Mary Oliver's New and Selected Poems, Volume 1 (Beacon Press, 1994)
Blogs and Articles
- "How to talk to your kids about the violence in Charlottesville," by Sonali Kohli, August 12, 2017 in the L.A. Times
- "How to Talk to Your Kids about the Orlando Club Shooting," by Carolyn Talya Cakir on the Romper blog site
- Never Turning Away, Never Turning Back by Jessica York, UUA Director of the Faith Development Office
- Boston Marathon 2013: What Story to Tell Our Children... and Ourselves by Gail Forsyth-Vail, UUA Adult Programs Director
- Supporting Children in the Face of Disaster or Trauma by Tracey L. Hurd, posted by the UUA Resource Development Office
- Helping Students Navigate a Violent World by Sean McCollum, posted by Teaching Tolerance, A Project of the Southern Poverty Law Center
Tips and Fact Sheets
- Tips for Parents Concerning Children Who Witness or Hear about Violence, from The Fahs Collaborative at Meadville Lombard
- Helping Children Cope with Terrorism -- Tips for Families and Educators, from the National Association of School Psychologists
- Helping Children Cope with Tragedy-related Anxiety, from Mental Health America
- Discussing Hate and Violence with Your Children, from the Anti-Defamation League
- Talking with Kids about News, on the PBS Parents website
- The Terrorism section of the National Child Traumatic Stress Network's website offers multiple fact sheets for processing a shooting tragedy with children (PDF), youth, and adults.
- How to Cope with a School Shooting (video) with Dr. Hayley Sherwood, licensed clinical psychologist
- "Meditation on Breathing," words by Sarah Dan Jones, sung by Alex Kapitan and Tracy Ahlquist
- "We Pray (Healing Prayer)" by Nick Page
- Talking about Death: A Dialogue between Parent and Child by Earl A. Grollman (Beacon Press, 2011)
- Living When a Loved One Has Died by Earl A. Grollman (Beacon Press, 1997)
- Listen, Protect, and Connect: Psychological First Aid for Children and Parents (PDF) by Dr. Merritt Schreiber and R. Gurwitch (2006)
- Trauma Response Resources for Families and Congregations on the UUA website