Talking to children about world events

In the wake of the horrific events in Paris over the weekend, Andrew Hall (Specialist Safeguarding Consultant, Success In Schools Ltd.) has compiled a helpful list of web-based information to support conversations with children. I have reproduced Andrew's article in its entirety below, and added in the web links for ease of reference.


Terrorist Events: Supporting Children (compiled by Andrew Hall)

The terrible events in Paris on Friday highlights the very unsettled world in which we live. Deaths, explosions and violence are seen on 24-hour television, web and newspapers and children are often totally exposed to this media, often with no explanation. Some of our pupils may have visited Paris, played on a Tunisian beach or flown on a plane out of Sharm el-Sheikh. We don’t know what effect hearing about these events has on children, but we need to be sensitive to their needs, questions, concerns and fears.

There is a paucity of information on the internet offering advice about helping children and young people understand terrorist events. Much of the information comes from America and dates from September 11th 2001 or offers support after a school shooting. I've reviewed the available material and listed below are the most appropriate resources I've found.

Helping Children Cope in Unsettling Times (Somerset County Council) (2010)[1].doc

A possible resource for an Assembly: #PrayforParis

Websites I’ve reviewed and found to include useful information include:

Parent's Guide to Talking to Their Children about War (City of New York)

Tips for Parents on Media Coverage (National Child Traumatic Stress Network, USA)

Talking to Children about Terrorism and War (American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry)

Books to help children explore world issues

After the Charlie Hebdo attack in January 2015, author Sita Brahmachari wrote in the Guardian about why it’s more important than ever to write stories for children that explore our differences and common humanity. The article includes a diverse list of contemporary authors whose books have helped children and young people understand and empathise with some of the most complicated situations faced in the world today.

Books to breed tolerance (Guardian) (12th January 2015)

Download the list of books as a .pdf
Books to breed tolerance: what children can read after the terrorist attacks in Paris

Developing children’s understanding of values

Two structured programmes to help school embed a strong ethos of respect and tolerance are the Rights Respecting Schools Award and Values-based Education. The details of both approaches are shared below and each has much to offer.

Unicef UK Rights Respecting Schools Award

The Unicef UK Rights Respecting Schools Award (RRSA) supports schools across the UK to embed children’s human rights in their ethos and culture. The award is based on principles of equality, dignity, respect, non-discrimination and participation. The initiative started in 2006 and schools involved in the Award have reported a positive impact on relationships and well-being, leading to better learning and behaviour, improved academic standards and less bullying.

Unicef UK Rights Respecting Schools Award

Values-based Education

Values-based Education is an approach to teaching that works with values. It creates a strong learning environment that enhances academic attainment, and develops students' social and relationship skills that last throughout their lives.

The positive learning environment is achieved through the positive values modelled by staff throughout the school. It quickly liberates teachers and students from the stress of confrontational relationships, which frees up substantial teaching and learning time.

It also provides social capacity to students, equipping them with social and relationship skills, intelligences and attitudes to succeed at school and throughout their lives.

Values-based Education



Teresa Regan
Principal Educational Psychologist