What do you tell a child

When nature wreaks havoc as seen in the Cloudburst, Katrina, or Rita, how do you explain this to children ??

Events like this make no sense. The destruction, desperation and utter hopelessness in the face of such natural disasters, leaves us adults dumbfounded. With all our understanding, maturity, knowledge, we still cannot make sense of this.

But what about the children. Just today I was watching an segment on CNN and it showed some kids, who had the look of shock on their face. They had been driven out of their homes, displaced by the rising waters in the wake of Hurricane Rita. While the parents were talking to the camera, berating nature, and complaining about the response, or lack thereof of the government and the agencies, no one seemed to bother about what the little children were going through.

I shudder to think how I would explain these events to the inquisitive and innocent mind of a child. What do you tell the child ?? If God loves all people, why is he sending so much rain that their house floats away. Have they done something wrong that God is so angry on them. Am sure that those who have experienced this would be able to shed more light on the kind of questions that come about. I can only imagine.

And in answering the children, do you be truthful and tell them what happened, or do you try to make a believable story so that the childs curiosity is satiated.

Adults generally tend to move on more easily from disaster events. There are a lot of other worries, to divert their thought process from the havoc. But to the children, these events are scars that will be on their young minds all their lives.

I recently came across the website of NYCoRE (New York Collective of Radical Educators) On their site they have documented  ways to talk about disasters like Katrina and Rita in the classroom. Check out “An Unnatural Disaster: A Critical Resource Guide for Addressing the Aftermath of Hurricane Katrina in the Classroom.”.

” When the American public is told that the residents of New Orleans and the gulf region are finally accounted for and the media re-focuses on the next event, the disaster will continue for the hundreds of thousands who have lost their homes, families and the lives they once knew. Young people have seen the images, heard the rhetoric, and felt the same sympathetic sense of helplessness that educators have experienced in the days leading up to this school year. How will teachers support their students to reflect on the enormity of this crisis in their classrooms?”

 This curriculum was developed by NYCoRE and can be downloaded for free from their website.

If you have personal anecdotes to share on this topic, the comments section is open.