Social worker offers advice on talking to children about Charlottesville rally

Cathy Brown says keep it simple, sometimes less detail is better.

By Alison Wickline - Reporter

ROANOKE, Va. - Harrowing images from the unrest in Charlottesville last weekend are hard for most anyone to process. For many parents, this past weekend presented a problem--how can you inform your kids about a violent and deadly event and still protect them?

"I think where it becomes difficult is when we really try to expose kids to things that they're not ready to be exposed to or that they don't have a true understanding, it can be frightening," said Cathy Brown, LCSW and director of Child, Youth, and Family Services at Blue Ridge Behavioral Healthcare. 

Brown says with younger children, keep answers simple. Tell the truth, but leave out details that may make it harder for children to process.

"Keep it to 'this was a bad thing that happened, people were angry and they fought.' But most of all, kids want to be assured that they are safe,'" said Brown. 

With older children, Brown says open communication can be key. With social media projecting the details and images of violent events like Charlottesville unfiltered, not talking can hurt worse than the words themselves.

"I think we have to remember that particularly in this day and time, if your kids aren't getting answers from you, they're going to get them from somewhere else," said Brown. 

Brown says TV exposure can also affect children, so it's important to keep an eye on what they're watching and hearing when events like Charlottesville erupt.

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