(NEW YORK) — The Boston Marathon bombings are a stark reminder that the country is still vulnerable to terrorism. And with images from the deadly explosions flashing across television and all forms of social media, parents are struggling with what their kids see and grappling with how much, if at all, to tell them.
“It’s very difficult,” Dr. Janet Taylor, a community psychiatrist in New York, said on ABC’s Good Morning America Tuesday. “The first thing you do is check in with your own emotions. Because you can guarantee whatever you’re feeling, your kids are feeling as well.”
Taylor said it’s important to have a direct, controlled conversation with your children to re-establish a sense of control.
“You can explain there are bad people in the world, but there are good people,” she said. “Let’s focus on the good that’s in this house right now. You can ask them to ask you questions. Answer them honestly. If you don’t know an answer, find the information together.”
Monitoring your kids’ “screen time” is also a key factor in making sure they are not over-exposed to graphic material.
“You have to monitor screen time,” Taylor said. “Screen time is computers, TVs and phones. Understand your kids are probably seeing it before you do, and when they’re at school you have no control. But you can re-establish those boundaries about what they’re watching.”
Dr. Sebastian Schubl, a trauma surgeon at Jamaica Hospital in New York City, said words like “shrapnel” and “amputation” are difficult for children to deal with, especially when associated with the graphic images floating all over the Internet.
Schubl added, however, it’s important to assure your children that these people can be saved.
“They can have fulfilling lives. They’re going to require lots of health care, lots of attention, lots of surgery, but we will get them through,” he said.
“The first responders in Boston did an incredible job. They clearly saved lives. And telling your kids that exists, that the health care system will work for you, I think that provides a lot reassurance,” Schubl said.
Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio