Invalid or Broken rss link.

I am reluctantly but fairly surely approaching the point where I fear my home will have to become a news free zone – at least when the kids are around. As a journalist and news presenter I am, as you might guess, a news junkie. When I’m not reading the news, then it’s either on the TV – or on in the car (despite my kids protestations that they want to listen to Capital Radio!). But as the terror attacks in this country and around the world increase in their frequency I feel the need more and more to insulate my children’s innocent little ears from the horror of what is happening around us. Three terror attacks in this country alone in the past three months.

I used to relish sharing what is happening in the news with my children – encouraging their many questions and feeding their inquisitive minds. The oldest two understand we have another election this week – they knew about the EU referendum last year even if they didn’t quite understand its implications. They know all about the election of Donald Trump and my oldest certainly has his own fairly strong views about the current President of the USA. Just last week they asked what I had done at work that day, so I explained the main news story and we had a long conversation about the Paris Accord and about global warming. My heart swelled with pride as they came up with their own policies they would like to implement to combat climate change should they be Prime Minister. I want them to grow up knowing and understanding the world. But how do we explain this? This terror which is being inflicted upon us? I cannot understand, let alone explain it to my children’s precious young impressionable minds.

My kids are nine, six and four years old. My nine year old is fairly sensitive and doesn’t even want to hear on the news about people dying – at the best of times. These are, it is safe to say, certainly not the best of times.

The morning after the Manchester attack we were in the car doing the school run and the headlines came on the radio. I hurriedly turned it down but not before my son heard the words ‘suicide bomb’ and ‘Manchester’. It’s a city we know and love, visiting the kids’ grandparents there frequently. I didn’t want him worrying or anxious about what could happen next time we visited.

I don’t want my children growing up living in fear – looking over their shoulder whenever they are out, worrying about an attack on public transport, at a concert, at their school. I find myself living with an almost low level constant anxiety about an attack, whether I’m on the tube, in central London, in a shopping centre, on a plane, my thoughts always at some point turn to the fear of a terrorist incident. I don’t want this for them.

Over the past year or so I’ve read several different articles suggesting how best we talk to children about what is going on. How we should only answer their questions and give age appropriate responses. But I struggle to think of an age appropriate explanation for a nine, six or four year old as to how someone can strap a bomb to themselves and blow up innocent children – their age!

Perhaps I’m just naive – putting off the inevitable. After all, sooner or later they will need to know. But I would prefer it to be later.

For now I’ve decided, and I can hardly believe I’m saying this, when the kids are around, our home will be a news free zone. If they come to me with questions, things they’ve heard from other people, I will try my best to answer them, as I too struggle to understand and make sense of the world we now live in.

Samantha Simmonds is a TV News Presenter.


2 Comments on "Is No News Good News?"

  1. Peter Kennedy | 2nd July 2017 at 7:58 am | Reply

    Thanks for the article Samantha

    Dealing with young minds can be a problem, especially when they are at an impressionable age. I was fortunate enough to go to a good school where they taught us about the entire political spectrum, from communism to fascism, and almost every religion including some of the odd ones. They then left us to make our own minds up but all questions were answered.

    So, although I am not a parent I do have a suggestion to deal with your problem, put the news back on. The kids will have questions so answer them, then maybe add a little background information so that the situation becomes clearer.

    It is however most important that your children DO NOT grow up living in fear of terrorism. The moment you start to change your lifestyle because of a terrorist attack they’ve won, just a small victory, but they’ve won. Carry on as normal and explain to them that it’s their duty to do this because that’s what needs to be done.

    Life as a kid is meant to be fun, and the last thing they want is some loon who believes in a different sky fairy spoiling things.

  2. Crikey, your brave Samantha, putting your head above the parapet on something like this. I would never presume to offer a parent advice on how to handle something like this, after all you know your kids best and parenting is all about doing what you think is the right thing. I can still vividly remember certain news broadcasts from when I was in that age bracket. I can still see in my minds eye the studio background featuring a policeman and a tracker dog that was used nightly during the hunt for the Yorkshire Ripper. I can remember a John Wayne western being interrupted to go to a news flash on the SAS storming the Iranian embassy, and of course the coverage of the Falklands conflict among others. None of them actually scared me or had a negative psychological effect, Blakes 7 on the other hand gave me nightmares of Federation troopers hunting me down through the corridors of my school. I think as a kid you will always find something to scare you.

    The news coverage has changed hugely though since those days, where even large scale tragedies only got a few minutes coverage. Interviews, if there were any, were done with whoever the authority figure in charge of the situation happened to be. Nowadays it is wall to wall, often featuring interviews with civilians who are in various states of distress or excitement and it serves to ramp up the drama of an event in a way that would have been frowned upon heavily (and rightly so IMO) 30-40 years ago. I think modern TV news has a moral responsibility to try not to amplify the sense of fear, panic, outrage or whatever strong emotion any given event happens to engender in people. At the moment they are too keen to report speculation as opposed to fact in order to fill airtime and I don’t think it’s doing anybody any favours.

    Something to ponder. If you look at the period 1985-89 we had Valley Parade, Heysel, Herald of Free Enterprise, Hungerford, Enniskillen, Kings Cross, Piper Alpha, Clapham, Lockerbie, Kegworth, Hilsborough and the Marchioness disaster. Over 1000 people killed in 5 years (and I’m sure I’ve missed other events). The UK is a much safer place today ,so why don’t we perceive it as such?.

Leave a comment

Comments are moderated before they are published. Please consider if you're contributing to the discussion before you post. Abuse and general negativity will not be allowed to appear on the site. This might be the Internet but let's try to keep things civil.

Your email address will not be published.



This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.