Supporting our Children and Young People through the Christchurch Tragedy

March 19, 2019

As the impact of Christchurch Terrorist attacks continues throughout communities, we must ensure our young people are supported as they come to terms with terrorism and the discussions surrounding it.

Here are some helpful links and tips for parents, educators and families, as they help their young people through this tragedy. Otherwise please call Traumatic Incidents Service 0800 848 326.

No one is born racist. It is learnt. Both teachers and parents should be proactive in these conversations.

Educators will be an essential role in helping their young people understand terrorism and the discussions surrounding. Here are some tips.

Introduce the discussion

Don’t shy away from controversial topics – encourage them in the classroom. Provide a safe space for students to discuss terrorism openly so they can understand what it means and develop the knowledge required to challenge inaccuracies. Start with:

  • What have they heard? then respond accordingly
  • Ask them what they want to know – take the lead from students
  • If discussion is slow, use a news article to prompt it
  • Ask your own questions – balance is important

Help students with the facts

Social media is full of “fake news” and it can be hard for young people (or anyone in fact) to filter out the truth. Educators should use quality, age appropriate news content to facilitate discussion. Ask students to:

  • Think critically about the news they absorb
  • Ask questions around who is writing the news, for what purpose, what agenda or bias does the writer have
  • Who carried out research and how
  • Develop their own opinions

Talk about freedom and rights

Open discussion is important but certain views need to be challenged, which is a difficult task for anyone. So how do you juggle the need for everyone to safely share their views whilst also ensuring to show that ideas that sympathise with terrorists are unacceptable. Preparation is key and here are some ways you can be.

Correct Misunderstandings

People sometimes generalise, often to make sense of an issue. People like to think bad things happen to bad people, or that there is truly and ‘us vs. them’. It’s important to correct these prejudices and there is not an age-appropriate resources for students to navigate but this Extremist video that might help. s


Most importantly, show your students the good

It’s okay to be scared, angry, scared and confused after a terrorist attack, but where there is sadness and pain there will always be good. As evident post Christchurch shootings, people all over New Zealand and the world have shared their love and support for Muslims, Christchurch and for New Zealand. Remind young people of this, to help alleviate their fear and put the events in perspective.