Supporting children worried about terrorism

Our advice can help parents talk to their children worried about recent events

If you're concerned about how a child is feeling following tragic events like those in London, Manchester or Barcelona, you can call the NSPCC helpline on 0808 800 5000 for advice 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.


Talking about terrorism: tips for parents

Children are exposed to news in many ways, and what they see can worry them. Our advice can help you have a conversation with your child:

    • listen carefully to a child’s fears and worries
    • offer reassurance and comfort
    • avoid complicated and worrying explanations that could be frightening and confusing
    • help them find advice and support to understand distressing events and feelings
    • children can always contact Childline free and confidentially on the phone and online.

It’s also important to address bullying and abuse following the terrorist attacks. 

  • Some children may feel targeted because of their faith or appearance
    Look for signs of bullying, and make sure that they know they can talk with you about it. Often children might feel scared or embarrassed, so reassure them it's not their fault that this is happening, and that they can always talk to you or another adult they trust. Alert your child’s school so that they can be aware of the issue. 
  • Dealing with offensive or unkind comments about a child’s faith or background
    If you think this is happening, it’s important to intervene. Calmly explain that comments like this are not acceptable. Your child should also understand that someone’s beliefs do not make them a terrorist. Explain that most people are as scared and hurt by the attacks as your child is. You could ask them how they think the other child felt, or ask them how they felt when someone said something unkind to them. Explain what you will do next, such as telling your child's school, and what you expect them to do.

"We are deeply saddened to learn of the devastating terror attack in Manchester. Our thoughts are with the victims and families of those who have been affected. Our advice for any child or teenager upset and anxious in light of this news is for them to talk to a trusted adult, be it a parent, teacher or Childline."
Peter Wanless / NSPCC Chief executive

Talking to your children about terrorism

Watch our video to see how three parents answer their children's questions based on footage from Paris. You can find more advice on The Times.

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Childline

Childline is our free, confidential helpline for children and young people. Whenever children need us, Childline is there for them – online, on the phone, anytime.

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