Experts advise to protect children from graphic images
Parents and guardians should limit children’s exposure to the media following the Boston Marathon explosions, said Vivien Weiss, a Northampton therapist.
For children under age 10, traumatic events can be particularly scary because kids don’t possess the knowledge to make sense of the situation, she said, and they have active imaginations that can run wild with fear.
“Children don’t have a filter, an emotional filter, so if they’re seeing these images, they can’t quite follow everything that’s going on, but what they see sort of lodges itself in a way that is very frightening for them in their minds,” she said. “The worst thing for children when something like this happens is when they’re exposed to media nonstop because really, when it’s a small child, the parents should be the media, they should be the filter.”
If a child has heard the news and seen some of the graphic photographs and videos, Weiss said it is important to stress that this kind of violence is rare.
“You can tell them this kind of thing hardly ever happens and it’s not going to happen to you and it’s not going to happen to me. You are safe,” Weiss said. “And you know, the vast, vast, vast majority of the time that’s actually true.”
Weiss said it’s also important to ask children if they have any questions about what happened at the Boston Marathon and then to give age-appropriate answers.
If a child has already been exposed to the violence at the end of the marathon, Weiss said parents should acknowledge how awful the events were and point out that what has been reported in newspapers and shown on TV isn’t the whole story. While there was violence, there were also many people who helped — and are still helping — the victims.
“Children are afraid of situations that are out of control. You can say, last night when you watched TV it was utter pandemonium and chaos. That’s what happened at the beginning, but that isn’t the whole story,” Weiss said. “There were many doctors and helpers, people helped to give blood, runners ran to the hospital to give blood. The people who got hurt, they’re all being taken care of.”