Published on 09/14/01

Extension Offers Help Discussing Disaster with Children

As terror takes over television and the national consciousness, children may be confused.

In most Georgia counties, the University of Georgia Extension Service has agents trained in family and consumer science and youth development.

"Nothing could prepare us for this unspeakable disaster," Bower said. "But there are resources to consider as we all try to find some meaning in this madness."

The Extension Service and the UGA College of Family and Consumer Sciences have created and posted publications to help families discuss this tragedy with children.

The publications can be found on the Internet at http://www.fc or by contacting your county Extension Service agent.

"Most of these publications deal with helping others, especially young people, cope with the grief we are experiencing personally and as a nation," Bower said.

A basic point to remember:

Children don't have an automatic fear response to news reports. They look primarily to the adults around them for cues on which emotional response to adopt. If their parents and teachers are calm, then children will respond with calm, too.

Parents and teachers should carefully monitor their own reactions to the news reports, Bower said. This simple act will prevent most of the problems clinical psychologists worry about.

While helping young people work though this horror, Bower said, "be sensitive, too, to adults who may already be struggling with depression and anxiety."

Faith Peppers is the director of public affairs with the University of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences.