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Talking to children about race and discrimination

Scenes of anger and protest across the world by the Black Lives Matter Movement following the death of George Floyd in the USA, have highlighted the divisions that still exist and need to be addressed in society. As mental health practitioners, it’s important we acknowledge the heightened anxiety and pain felt by members of our community.

Boy protesting for George Floyd

One of Place2Be’s school-based mental health professionals, Dianna Roberts, has held sessions with Year 6 pupils in her school about race and racism:

“Some of the children were quite anxious about asking questions or saying the wrong thing. We talked about how normal it is to feel uncertain and confused, and to have lots of questions. They wanted to know why racism had come back, or why people hadn’t been protesting before. We also talked about where they were getting information from, and the majority said social media. Only a few said they’d spoken to a parent about it."

"It’s so important that parents and teachers are able to talk openly about these subjects, to help children manage their anxiety about distressing scenes on the news, and so they know that it’s ok to ask questions.”

Here are some resources you may find useful when talking with children and young people on issues around race and discrimination.

Resources for parents and carers

A Parent’s Guide to Black Lives Matter
This guide aims to provide resources, advice, and tips to ensure that children are aware of racial inequality, racial hierarchies, and white privilege present in modern-day society, as well as share tools and knowledge in which to combat racism today.

Racism and violence: helping children to handle the news
The Child Mind Institute have shared advice on helping children to deal with troubling news about race and violence

George Floyd: Why are there huge protests in the US and around the world?
BBC Newsround’s report helps children to make sense of what has happened in recent days and weeks

How to talk to your children about race and racism
How to answer questions about race and racism? Entrepreneur, blogger and mum-of-one Freddie Harrel and Behavioural scientist and diversity consultant Dr Pragya Agarwal – who has three daughters - shared their personal experiences and tips with BBC Woman’s Hour…

Resources for schools

All different, all equal toolkit for primary schools
Available on the Mentally Healthy Schools website, this toolkit includes an assembly plan, a lesson plan and cross-curricular ideas for teachers to help empower children and young people to celebrate what makes them, and others, unique.

Black Lives Matter - Book Trust Book List
Book Trust has selected books that examine the structural oppression experienced by the Black community, aimed at inspiring and empowering young children to talk about anti-racism.

 

Remember that if you are struggling with your mental health, there is always help available.

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