How to talk to children when the news is scary.

by First News Editor in Chief Nicky Cox MBE

1. Don’t try to turn off the news when there is bad news. Sadly, in the technological world in which we live, adults are no longer in control of how children access information. News comes at us 24 hours a day from dedicated news channels, radio, the internet, and newspaper headlines. Even if you manage to shield your children from all of that, things that happen in the news will be talked about in the school playground or lunch hall. Better that your child is armed with the real facts than hearing exaggerated, second or third-hand versions. Information is better than misinformation.


2. Even if your child doesn’t mention bad news, don’t assume they are not troubled by it. They may be worrying quietly inside. Explain simply what has happened, taking care not to use sensationalised words that tend to be used by the national press.


3. First News covers good and bad news in the paper and on our daily online news channel, First News Live! Use our content, made especially for children, as a platform to talk to children about the news. It is always created to explain what has happened but to offer reassurance, too.


4. Remind them that there is much more good news than bad news happening. And that there are many more good people than bad people.


5. Make sure children understand that America has a problem with gun violence because every American over the age of 18 has a right to own a gun – there are as many guns as people in America – around 300 million! Tell children that it is highly unlikely that something like this horrific school shooting would happen in the UK because we have strict controls over who can own a gun and what they can use it for. Knowledge is power.


6. Remind children that the best way to stay safe is to take care in their own daily lives. Children are more likely to have an accident in their own home than when they are out and about.


7. Hold them a little bit closer and for a little bit longer.