When someone asks, “Have you had that talk yet with your children?” Usually, they are referring to the birds and the bees. But that’s in a perfect world. We live in times when children learn all about the two “B”s well before parents consider it the right age to have the talk. It’s scary, sure. But there are other scarier things demanding our attention. That’s terrorism. The threat is real, much as we are in denial and much as it is still quite far away from “home”.
Some parents, however, refuse to talk about terrorism, quoting that exposure to brutal killings and beheadings are adult worries and not something young children should be burdened with. Others who are open to it deal with the situation differently.Some broach it pre-emptively, before their children are fully aware of the concept. Others closely monitor the videos their kids view online, filtering out violent images and suggestions of brutality.
Besides limiting young children’s exposure to violence in the media, Dr Dora Chen, a senior lecturer at SIM University who specialises in early childhood education, says that parents should supervise their kids’ TV time, “especially when news about terrorism is being aired”.
“This way, you will be able to answer their questions as they arise,” she says.
Unwarranted fear can also lead to prejudice. Encouraging children to turn to them means parents can correct them if they hear “bigoted ideas”, says Dr Singh, who is also an adjunct senior fellow at the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies at Nanyang Technological University.
“Parents must not demonise a religious community and should talk about the importance of living in harmony in Singapore,” he says. “There is no way to hide terrorism from children. They will get to know about it in the mainstream media and social media.” And that is the sad truth.
Here are 5 ways you can approach the subject: