Discussing Traumatic Events with Youth

We at MACMH believe it necessary to make a statement in response to ongoing events in the United States and around the world. Below we have compiled a list of resources available to youth, parents and other adults who work with and care for children and adolescents.

Fear-inspiring events are occurring at an alarming rate. These events are disproportionately impacting many of our vulnerable communities, including people living with mental health difficulties; Muslims; Hispanics and Latinos; African-Americans; Jews; indigenous peoples; the LGBTQ+ community; and immigrants. The hatred, racism, and discrimination reflected in these events undermine children’s mental health, both directly as well as through their impact on adults who are charged with protecting children from harm. Both the content of these events and the feelings they evoke can trigger past trauma—the effects of which are seen in our professional practice and in our communities.

As adults, we often find ourselves struggling to understand what is happening in our society. Our children often have questions that we don’t know how to answer. We sometimes worry that if we “get it wrong,” we may make an already confused or frightened child feel worse.

We know that being informed and talking with children about these events can help reduce their feelings of helplessness, confusion and isolation. Therefore, we have compiled the following resources to empower you to talk with the children in your life about the traumatic events reflected in the news and in our communities. These resources are also intended to supplement the immense amount of self-advocacy and self-care efforts already being led and practiced within targeted communities.

If you require additional support beyond that which is provided, please do not hesitate to reach out to a trusted support, which may include a family therapist.

• Talking with Kids About News, From Mass Shootings to Natural Disasters and War
• How to Talk to Kids About Difficult News — American Psychological Association
• How to Talk to Your Kids About the Violence in Charlottesville, by Sonali Kohli
• How to Talk to Your Kids about Charlottesville, by Maria Russo
• Tips for Talking With and Helping Children and Youth Cope After a Disaster or Traumatic Event: A Guide for Parents, Caregivers and Teachers  — Substance Abuse and Mental Health Association
• Traumatic Experiences (Sesame Street in Communities)  https://sesamestreetincommunities.org/topics/traumatic-experiences/
• Types of Trauma — National Child Traumatic Stress Network
• Immigration, Undocumented Americans, Working with Immigrant Origin Clients, Psychological Issues of Immigration, & Getting Help — American Psychological Association
• Addressing Race and Trauma in the Classroom: A Resource for Educators
• 10 Ways to Talk to Students about Sensitive Issues in the News — The Learning Network
• There is No Apolitical Classroom — National Council of Teachers of English
• Racism and Child Health: A Review of the Literature and Future Directions