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Violent Images Impact Kids Differently

Experts offer age-appropriate tips to maintain your child's sense of security in a world bombarded by scenes of violence.

Assess Level of Fear

When it comes to assessing the effect of violent images on children, parents need to consider more than age. "It also depends on the particular child. Some are way more sensitive than others," Kaslow tells WebMD.

By carefully evaluating a child's reaction first, parents can avoid creating an atmosphere of fear where one doesn't exist. "Talk and listen in a way that allows children to express their own potential fears. Don't assume that they're having a reaction that they may not be [having," says Chu.

Build a Secure Atmosphere

While parents can't always know how their children will react to violent images, they can take concrete steps to create and maintain an atmosphere of security.

Providing a secure home environment probably tops the list. "When children can at least know that their home is a safe place, that eases their anxiety level," Kaslow tells WebMD.

Putting violent events into perspective helps too. "Tell them the events are rare and that, generally, the world is a safe place," suggests Hagan.

Despite parents' best efforts to help children maintain a sense of security and control over their lives in the midst of troubling images, anxiety levels may remain high.

"If it seems like an obsession that's consuming their thoughts or actions, then you need to address it," Kaslow says.

Because one thing is certain -- the world's violence is not going to go away.


Reviewed on April 16, 2007

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