How Terrorism Affects U.S. Children

Opinion2.jpgIt wasn’t uncommon for me to hear all about rated-R movies. The blood, the gore, and then, of course, the proceeding nightmares and sleep deprivation. I’m not slamming rated-R movies but there is a reason why they are given a Restricted Access rating. But yet, here were my 8 and 9 year old students chiming in, one after another, “Oh yeah, I saw that!”

I couldn’t hold back my opinion of them watching these murder-filled dramas… but, in the end, it didn’t matter. I wasn’t their parent and so it was up to someone else to make that decision.

I’m sure most people, myself included, take TV for granted. It’s as natural for us to watch TV as it is for us to sleep at night and yet, oddly enough, TV holds a certain power that we seem to have forgotten about. Study after study cite the harmful effects of adults who watch too much porn or of kids who spend hours in front of the tube. And what do kids, who know so little of the world, make of shows that present situations that they just don’t get? (“Mrs, why did he hurt his kid?”) It’s easy to forget that our understanding of the world is so much more advanced than kids’. They don’t know how to process the shades of grey that we have to constantly juggle.

Oddly, enough, the articles featuring kids and the negative effects TV has on their physical growth, mental state, emotional health, fill-in-the-blank, always seem to scream at us from the headlines, the story warranting front page coverage. But I have to ask, does this information really surprise anyone?

So, when the Science Daily website ran an article titled, “Exposure To Terrorist Attacks Increases Mental Health Problems In Children,” I barely blinked. If I get freaked out watching innocent, normal people being blown up, wouldn’t children share those feelings-only magnified?

The article mentions that it is important to research kids who are exposed to terrorist related stories so that “the system” can get them help if needed. Yes, sure, of course that is the politically correct thing to do. But maybe as a society, as parents, as sisters, as uncles, heck, as The Adults we need to make certain that our children have a limited intake of this violence. And when they are exposed, shouldn’t we take the time to talk to our kids, to reassure, to explain, to help them understand the world that is still quite new to them? And while we’re at it, maybe we should do that with most of the stuff they see on TV. After all, who knows what they make of mommy switching or plastic surgery horrors or the sordid lives of celebrities? Funny, it took me 20 years but I’m finally glad that my parents couldn’t afford cable.


Blackwell Publishing Ltd. (2007, December 24). Exposure To Terrorist Attacks Increases Mental Health Problems In Children. ScienceDaily.

J. R. White

J. R. White is a graduate of the University of Texas at Austin. She has over five years of experience in education and pedagogy.
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