Tragic Events In The News

Fred Rogers. Photo: KUHT (CC)

There’s only one news story that matters today: the shooting massacre at an elementary school in Newtown, CT. We’ll leave the breaking news coverage to others. For now we appreciate Deanna Zandt‘s tweeted suggestion of this advice to parents from Mister (Fred) Rogers:

In times of community or world-wide crisis, it’s easy to assume that young children don’t know what’s going on. But one thing’s for sure — children are very sensitive to how their parents feel. They’re keenly aware of the expressions on their parents’ faces and the tone of their voices. Children can sense when their parents are really worried, whether they’re watching the news or talking about it with others. No matter what children know about a “crisis,” it’s especially scary for children to realize that their parents are scared.

Some Scary, Confusing Images
The way that news is presented on television can be quite confusing for a young child. The same video segment may be shown over and over again through the day, as if each showing was a different event. Someone who has died turns up alive and then dies again and again. Children often become very anxious since they don’t understand much about videotape replays, closeups, and camera angles. Any televised danger seems close to home to them because the tragic scenes are taking place on the TV set in their own livingroom. Children can’t tell the difference between what’s close and what’s far away, what’s real and what’s pretend, or what’s new and what’s re-run.

The younger the children are, the more likely they are to be interested in scenes of close-up faces, particularly if the people are expressing some strong feelings. When there’s tragic news, the images on TV are most often much too graphic and disturbing for young children.

“Who will take care of me?”
In times of crisis, children want to know, “Who will take care of me?” They’re dependent on adults for their survival and security. They’re naturally self-centered. They need to hear very clearly that their parents are doing all they can to take care of them and to keep them safe. They also need to hear that people in the government and other grownups they don’t eveen know are working hard to keep them safe, too…

[More advice to parents from Mr. Rogers]

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  • http://twitter.com/TedHeistman Ted Heistman

    Fred Roger’s was a great man. No Joke. I am serious. He had a big positive effect on my childhood.

  • namvetted68

    does this mean we can skip the usual lecture about how more guns would have saved that school from another tragedy?

    • Matt Staggs

      Looks like we were, until….

  • BuzzCoastin

    maybe Fred can be translated into the languages of Afghanistan
    those people see shit like this everyday
    also caused by crazy, gun totting Americans

  • Hadrian999

    the only news story that matters, what a testament to american vanity, earlier this month 900 people were killed in the Philippines and 80,000 were made homeless and maybe 1 in 10 Americans even heard of the storm, less than 30 Americans die and it’s the only story that matters…..I wonder if they agree in Syria, or Palestine or Mali.

    • http://twitter.com/RayButlers Ray Butlers

      A fine point. “We” only seem to care when rich white people in America die.

      • mahajohn

        God. Damn. Uh, we care because it’s a natural human emotion to feel
        sorrow when we hear that somewhere very close to our homes and our
        quotidian lives there is a deranged lunatic murdering children in an
        orgy of screams, blood and violence. That’s why we care. They are Us and
        not Them. Do you think Malians, Palestinians, Syrians or Filipinos were
        beside themselves with grief about a school shooting in far away New
        England? I don’t think so. We are a tribalistic species of ape, and all
        these holier-than-thou folks criticizing Americans for being hard-hit
        for the tragedies that take place in our own country are obviously
        themselves incapable of feeling empathy if they’re so upset about
        Americans being sad about a slaughter of innocents in our nation, in a
        fucking elementary school.

        • David Howe

          again. someone white and middle class got shot in America. No publicity about the dozens of minorities killed every day.

    • Aungsan

      I find it funny about Obama, does he cry also when he kills Pakistani children using drones, or are they just too brown for him to care? and this coming from a mulatto president.

  • charlieprimero

    I guarantee that in December 2013 you won’t be able to remember the name of the school, how many were killed, or the name of the town.

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