In the wake of the Paris attacks I have noted a tangible rise in fear amongst all the children I know. It now feels much closer and more real and they are frightened. My youngest son didn’t want me to go into work on Monday in case something happened “they’re going to attack London next – Christmas shoppers and people on public transport, you need to be really really careful”. So I was discussing how to talk to your children about terrorism with some friends. I understand his concern, but our job as parents is to not only reassure them that the risk of getting hurt in a terror attack is tiny, but to also help them understand that sometimes the world can be cruel and that bad things can happen to good people, no matter what. That being fearful or angry is not the answer and that the world still has more wonderful human beings than we could ever hope to meet. I want them to read the beautiful letters posted on Facebook by survivors and their families. I posted the one from the South African girl separately and I’ll add another beautiful letter to the bottom of this post – written by a young husband who has lost the love of his life. They are the ones that make us understand that life must go on, no matter what.
An explanation for children that helped hugely was brought to my attention yesterday, written by the First News editor Nicky Cox and it is a good way of helping them to keep everything in perspective:
“Terrorism attacks scare us all. That is what the terrorists want – to make people feel terror. But the fear is bigger than the facts. Being a victim of a terrorist attack is just about the least likely way that anyone will die. We are far more likely to die in a road traffic accident, from air pollution, from eating badly, from illness and many, many other things. So, it’s important to remember that.
“Even if you had been one of the 2.3 million people who were in Paris last night, the chances of you being one of the 129 people who died in the attacks would have been just one in 18,000. And the chances of being one of the tragic 129 out of the seven BILLION people in the world – well the risk is so small it can hardly be calculated. So try not to worry.”
Also then my son showed me this that he found on Instagram – which is a fairly reasonable take on the current situation:-
and here is the letter that Antoine Leiris wrote to the people who killed his wife at the concert hall:-
On Friday night you stole away the life of an exceptional being,
the love of my life,
the mother of my son,
but you will not have my hatred.
I do not know who you are and I don’t want to know, you are dead souls.
If the God for whom you kill so blindly made us in His image, each bullet in my wife’s body would have been a wound in His heart.
We are only two, my son and I, but we are more powerful than all the world’s armies… every day of his life this little boy will insult you with his happiness and freedom.
Therefore I will not give you the gift of hating you. You have obviously sought it but responding to hatred with anger would be to give in to the same ignorance that that has made you what you are.
You want me to be afraid, to cast a mistrustful eye on my fellow citizens, to sacrifice my freedom for security.
Lost. Same player, same game.
I saw her this morning. Finally, after nights and days of waiting. She was just as beautiful as she was when she left on Friday evening, as beautiful as when I fell madly in love with her more than 12 years ago.
Of course I’m devasted with grief, I will give you that tiny victory, but this will be a short-term grief. I know that she will join us every day and that we will find each other again in a paradise of free souls which you will never have access to.
We are only two, my son and I, but we are more powerful than all the world’s armies.
In any case, I have no more time to waste on you, I need to get back to Melvil who is waking up from his afternoon nap. He’s just 17 months old; he’ll eat his snack like every day, and then we’re going to play like we do every day; and every day of his life this little boy will insult you with his happiness and freedom. Because you don’t have his hatred either.
– ANTOINE LEIRIS