How to Talk to Your Student about Racism and Violence

by Miryam

We are holding monthly moments of silence and reflection during our Community Meetings where we acknowledge that there is so much happening in the world that brings tears to our eyes or incites anger in our bodies. Just as importantly, we name that what gets covered in the media is narrow and controlled, and we know that everyone in our community knows about different things that they want to hold in their hearts for a moment. This past Monday, we shared a moment of silence and reflection for the recent violent racist attacks  - specifically the shooting in Buffalo.  

During our mindfulness moment, I shared some takeaways from this week’s edition of Education Week to help students process their feelings of anger, anxiety, and grief. Although difficult, it’s important to give space for students to work through their feelings. We “can encourage students to take action to confront racism in their own lives and discuss together how allyship, advocacy, and activism can make a difference,” the Anti-Defamation League says.

In particular, “the live-stream and published racist manifesto has prompted concern about the shooting’s impact on young people. It is important for adults to find out what students know, correct any misinformation, and help students work through their feelings after witnessing violence.” For this reason, I encourage our students to talk to their teachers and to trusted adults.
The situation has probably left you, our adults at home, grappling with a question you’ve become far too familiar with: How do I explain mass violence and racial hatred to my student? As you have a conversation with your student, consider using the following takeaways, articles and resources to guide your discussion. 
Some top takeaways:
  • For younger kids, stay calm and emphasize that they’re safe, even if what they’re seeing is scary.
  • For school-age kids, give kids a chance to tell you how this makes them feel, ask questions and ask them what we can do about it.
  • For teenagers and young adults, discuss appropriate ways to channel their emotions and fight for what they believe in.
  • For kids of all ages, use the opportunity to have an honest, age-appropriate discussion about how these events fit into our history.
Articles and resources:
Located in the Central District, Seattle Girls' School is an independent school for girls and gender nonconforming students in grades 5-8. Our mission is to inspire and develop courageous leaders who think independently, work collaboratively, learn joyfully, and champion change.