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Tips on talking to your children about race and the ongoing protests

Posted at 2:21 PM, Jun 03, 2020

Kids may be confused or afraid because of the protests. Experts say it's important for parents to start a conversation about race and tackle the tough questions.

“If those questions don't get answered, that fear, that anxiety, that confusion just goes unaddressed,” said Dr. Beverly Daniel Tatum, a psychologist and author of the book “Why Are All the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria?”

Tatum says African American parents tend to talk to their children about police brutality to explain how they can stay safe, and that they themselves could become a victim.

“Most white parents are not worried about that happening to their white children,” said Tatum. “So, they're going to have a different kind of conversation, but it's important for all kids to recognize unfairness, injustice, and hopefully understand that they can be part of the solution."

The conversation may be different depending on the child's age.

A teenager may want to get involved with advocating for change. They may have had experiences with racism or know someone who has.

Tatum says kids as young as 3 or 4 will notice racial differences. At that age, you may have to put it in a way they can understand.

“Even a 5-year-old can understand the concept of unfairness,” said Tatum. “And you can even talk to a 5-year-old about a particular kind of unfairness we refer to as racism.”

Tatum says all kids should know how to engage with people who are different from themselves. She describes the protests as an issue for all of us, not just those directly impacted.