How teachers are talking to kids about terrorism in the classroom

WILTON, Iowa (KWQC) – Amid recent shootings at a Planned Parenthood in Colorado and at a holiday party in San Bernardino plus the acts of terrorism in Paris, how are teachers handling the topic of terrorism in the classroom?

Coverage on recent attacks, coupled with images of horror and grief are difficult for children to comprehend.

It can be an uncomfortable topic to talk about, but it’s something teacher Abby Moser said we shouldn’t ignore. She’s a world history teacher at Wilton Jr/Sr High School.

She has open and honest discussions about terrorism in her classroom, trying to inform her students about what’s going on outside of their hometown.

“There’s a lot I could ask about it,” said 7th grade student Ansley Boorn. “Why did they do this? Why did they make this group because why do you want to hurt people, just to be bad and mean?”

Hands are constantly up in the air in Moser’s class.

“Do you understand what ISIS is? What is ISIS?” she asks her class.

Today, they’re discussing terrorism and its impact across the globe.

“That’s just something that’s really hard for them to wrap their brain around,” Moser said.

She said one of the biggest questions her students have is “Why?”.

“Why are they wanting to come at certain people when they don’t even know who they are they’re just coming to the towns and doing bad stuff?” said Boorn.’

Moser said it’s a tough subject for some of her younger 7th and 8th grade students to understand.

“We really have to break it down for them and just tell them these people, they want the same thing that a lot of people want,” she said. “They want power and they want wealth and they want influence and they’re doing it in a way that most people would not go to. They’re very radical, very extreme.”

She’s also on the front lines of combatting anti-muslim sentiments and stereotypes.

“They’ve always known terrorism to be this evil thing and it’s synonymous with Islam, unfortunately,” said Moser.

She said she wants her students to be informed and so do they.

“To put awareness out there that there is such thing as a terrorist group that could really do something bad,” said 7th grade student Mason Nolte.

Moser uses historical comparisons to teach about what’s happening now.

“I try to relate it back to there were other groups that we were fighting with because of difference in opinions and religion and political outlooks and all those kinds of things, but we’ve overcome those as well and this is just another hurdle,” she said. “Hopefully by getting them informed, they can make this world a better place.”

Moser said students also come up to her individually and ask questions about terrorism. She said this is an important time, especially for her 7th and 8th grade students to be exposed to what’s happening around the world.

If you’d like to learn more about how to talk to your kids at home about terrorism, check out these links:

American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry
The National Child Traumatic Stress Network
American Psychoanalytic Association

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