If things weren’t already tough enough at the moment for our children, many of them (and us) have spent the last week struggling to get our heads around the horrendous circumstances that resulted in the death in the USA of George Floyd. A black man who died when a white officer pressed a knee to his neck for almost nine minutes as he lay faced down and handcuffed on the ground.
I know that the question that many of your children will be asking is why? And I wish I had the answer.
In times of political and social upheaval, schools often serve as a protected space outside the home for students to wrestle with difficult concepts, guided by an educated professional. But with the school closed to the vast majority of students those conversations are hard to have right now.
Our Life Skills Department have put some resources on the school website and the BBC Newsround website offers a really good and accessible insight into George Floyd’s death and the events that have unfolded as a consequence. If children were in school we would certainly be offering them a safe space to process and respond to what has happened, understand its complex causes and strive for solutions.
But because we are not in school, please can I ask that you offer your child / children this safe space. It is critically important that that we talk to children about racism.
How might you begin?
Don’t avoid talking about it. Racism and violence are things you might be reluctant to address, wanting to protect your children from being frightened or upset. But children can come to harmful conclusions about race when it’s not discussed openly.
Try to be calm and factual. Children take their cues from parents /carers, so talking to them calmly helps them process information. You don’t have to be a robot! It is appropriate to have emotional reactions, but try not to let them overwhelm the conversation.
Validate their feelings. Do your best to acknowledge whatever fears, anger or other negative feelings come up for them. This will look different for every child.
Encourage questions — and don’t worry if you can’t answer them.
The one key takeaway is to have a conversation with your children now, whatever that looks like in your family. And keep talking about it.
Thank you for your continued support.
Please take care!