Talking to your kids about Ferguson, tips from counselors - KPLC 7 News, Lake Charles, Louisiana

Talking to your kids about Ferguson, tips from counselors

SCOTT CITY, MO (KFVS) -

The situation in Ferguson is impacting lives back here in the Heartland, especially when it comes to our children. Experts say, when it comes to talking to our kids about it, there are some things to keep in mind.

School counselors say the conversations parents have with their children about Ferguson will depend on the child’s age and, even then, every child is different.

Counselor at Lee Hunter Elementary School Kristen Rapert said, first, it’s important for younger children to know they are safe. If your kids are elementary age, Rapert said, parents should make sure they are not overexposed to violent scenes coming out of Ferguson.

“Anything on the news can be traumatizing to young students because they don’t realize that it is not happening here, they think that it’s happening here and now versus someplace else,” Rapert said.

However, when it comes to older children, high school counselor at Scott City LaDonna Pratt said to feel free to engage them in more conversations about the situation in Ferguson and make sure their questions are answered.

She said unlike younger children, though, teens can likely judge for themselves how much is too much.

“Older children are going to be able to pick and chose a little more what they want to watch, what they don’t want to watch. A lot of students at times will turn the news off, it’s not something they want to hear, there’s a lot of negativity,” Pratt said.

Pratt said it’s important that all children are also exposed to positive things that are going on in the world in the midst of everything going on in Ferguson.

However, discussions of Ferguson aren’t only happening as home. As tragic the scenes and stories continue to emerge, teachers say it is sparking conversations among older students in high school classrooms, such as the Current Events course at Scott City High School.

From First Amendment rights to whether or not the officer’s shots were justified, Teacher John Nanney said his students are thinking critically about the situation and having dialogs in the classroom. He said students bring up valid points and thoughts every day, meaning they’re researching and thinking about the situation on their own, which is an important skill to learn.

“[We talk] about the First Amendment, your right to peacefully protest and where does that cross over into your abusing that with destroying private property, destroying a building and things of that sort,” Nanney said. “[We] respectfully discuss what people think has been right, what people think has been wrong.”

According to elementary school counselors, the topic is discussed in elementary school classrooms as a part of class. However, the Rapert said if younger kids start asking questions or are concerned, the teacher or the counselor will get involved with that conversation.

Copyright 2014 KFVS. All rights reserved.

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