The United States has been in turmoil for the past week over the death of a black man, George Floyd, at the hands of police. His death has set off countrywide protests as US citizens have come out in numbers to say the harsh treatment of black people must come to end.
In an interview with the Mercury Pediatrician Dr Rhea Boyd says: “Children and adolescents are experiencing the collateral consequences of the publicised murderers of Breonna Taylor, Tony McDade, and George Floyd, whether they have a smartphone in their direct possession or not.
“Whether from social media accounts, conversations with peers or caregivers, overheard conversations, or the distress they witness in the faces of those they love, children know what is going on. And without the guidance and validation of their caregivers, they may be navigating their feelings alone.”
Use these guidelines as a way to explain this important matter to them:
As parents, we are the mediators of the world for our children and being honest with them about the issues that the world struggles with is beneficial for them – just ensure that you tailor the conversation for your child’s age. Dr Laura Markham of Aha! parenting says: “If we want to raise our children to be compassionate people who participate as responsible citizens in a democracy, we need to find ways to talk with them about the thorny issues that we struggle with.”
Explain basic human rights
Before you can unpack the complexities of the #BlackLivesMatter movement, you will have to explain that all humans have basic human rights that must be respected – no matter what their skin colour. Make practical examples to illustrate this like their right to life – and how anyone who takes someone else’s life will be taken to court, tried, and will face imprisonment.
Connect the dots
Then for us, as South Africans, it’s important to place the things that are happening in the US within our local context. So here it’s about explaining that just as in the US, people are protesting for human rights. In South Africa, black people have had to protest to have their basic human rights respected as well.
Read books about people like Nelson Mandela to illustrate to them how he was one of the many people also protesting for the basic human right of equality.