Dealing With War and Conflict In The Media Reports of war and

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					Dealing With War and Conflict In The Media

Reports of war and conflict in the media can be frightening to children. Following are some tips to help
deal with events like the current crisis in the Middle East with upper primary and secondary students. The
recent events may upset some students, particularly if they have friends or relatives in the region.

Give students the opportunity to talk about their feelings and explore their questions after
watching BTN stories with them. Remind children that what they see on the news does not represent the
way things are everywhere.

Avoid asking young students to search for images in newspapers and prepare written reports about this
issue. Older students may like to compare different ways that the media reports specific aspects of this
issue, with the view to critically analysing material that is presented to us. Encourage them to ask
questions about who is telling the story, and why? It is important that older students are also given the
opportunity to explore issues from different perspectives, confront prejudice and become critical in their
interpretation of media reports.

   •   Acknowledge to children that war & conflict can be very frightening, and it’s okay to have these
       feelings. Do not falsely minimise the danger because this will not end a child's concerns.
   •   Portray confidence in the authorities. It is important that children realise that while wars are
       frightening, there are people and organisations that help to resolve conflicts and to arrange
       transportation for Australian citizens to return home.
   •   Stay calm and avoid alarm, as this is a feeling that can easily spread throughout a classroom.
   •   Keep control of discussions. Encourage students to talk about facts that have been confirmed, not
   •   Try to continue with your daily routine. This will reassure students by giving them familiar
       structure to their lives. Try to deal with the issue at hand and then move on.
   •   If the students still seem to need further discussion, you could encourage them to express their
       feelings as a painting, drawing, poem, email, podcast, media report, diary entry or short story.
   •   You can also encourage children to write questions and post them in a box for you to answer.
   •   Provide access to the ABC and BBC websites to provide students with accurate information on the
       Middle East.

It is important to remember that you are the adult in the classroom, and students will look to you for
guidance and advice. The way you act during a crisis will give them cues about how to respond.

Following are some ideas teachers are given by psychologists to help deal with war and conflict.

Topic Ideas

       •   Retaliation
       •   Bias
       •   Prejudice and discrimination
       •   Conflict resolution and negotiation
       •   Safety
       •   Human rights
       •   Defining terror, militants, campaign, war, terrorist, pacifist, peace
       •   Exploring human qualities of leaders, heroes and famous people.

   •   Journal Writing
          o Have students create personal journals reflecting on their feelings.
          o Have students write about what makes someone a hero, leader or terrorist.
          o Have students write about the actions of Israel and Hezbollah. What are their feelings
              about retaliation or negotiation?


   •   Discuss the role of embassies, police and medical staff in Lebanon, Israel and Australia.
   •   Inform students about the different roles of police, army and the UN.
   •   Hold a classroom discussion about people's reactions during tragedies. Talk about the positives
       (those who help) and the negatives (those who take advantage).
   •   Closely monitor classroom discussions about stereotypes and the problems with them.
   •   Hold a debate about photojournalism and the appropriate use of photographs in the media.
   •   Discuss how safe students feel today.


   •   Year 7 and secondary students can create a ‘critical collage’ of news headlines from the media.
       The class can discuss what is reported in the news and why. (Avoid asking young children to look
       through newspapers for images, as some of them may be too distressing.)
   •   Have students create a poem/song/drawing to express their feelings about events and the people
       who help to bring about an end to violence.
   •   Have students design a flag for world peace. Have the class vote on the best design.

Getting Students Involved

   •   Enable students to raise funds for people who are in areas of need.
   •   Investigate agencies that have set up AID programs that you could get involved in.
   •   Year 7 and high school students can analyse different media reports for bias and stereotypes.
   •   Prepare and present classroom media reports to keep students accurately informed about
       developments, in an attempt to alleviate any anxieties they may develop.

As you teach about war and terrorism, think about your own actions and how they might affect your
students. Some families may be in mourning, others may be afraid for family members who are fighting,
living or securing peace overseas. The way we feel about our own security in many respects has changed
since the events of September 11 and other terrorist attacks on civilians.

Holding discussions

    Remain open and listen to what your students are saying.
    Avoid sentences such as: "It could have been worse." Instead, focus on the positives that come
     out of traumatic experiences (increased feeling of solidarity, increased and improved security
    Avoid phrases like, "I know how you feel." Instead, express that you understand their feelings and
     then share your own.
    Teach Active Listening techniques, such as allowing silence, maintaining eye contact,
     paraphrasing, reflecting feelings, open questioning etc.
This is an appropriate time to discuss the problems with applying stereotypes to groups of people, for
example Muslims, Jews or Israelis! A useful example to use with young people is to discuss how
teenagers are treated today. Many teenagers feel that they are treated unfairly because of their age. The
media often convey negative images about teenagers drinking and driving, taking drugs and being
responsible for graffiti. This is, of course, the same complaint that teenagers have had for as long as can
be remembered. Discuss why people do this (misunderstandings, dress, piercings, news reports, etc.) to
help them not only understand the reason for their treatment but also why it is important not to unfairly
judge others because of the actions of a few.

TIPS FOR CHILDREN (display and discuss)

If something in the news worries you …

   •   Check the facts - it might not all be true or it could be exaggerated.
   •   Remember that things in the news are often ‘newsworthy’ because they are unusual or don't
       happen very often.
   •   Talk about the news with your parents, teacher or friends. They may understand and have ways
       to help you feel OK about what you have seen or heard.
   •   You could ask your teacher to hold a class discussion, which would help you understand the issue
   •   Play a game or get active - running, walking, cycling and exercise can help to relax you.
   •   If you need help you can contact the Kids Helpline on 1800 55 1800.
   •   Remember you can TURN THE TV OFF and choose not to watch things that may upset you.

Are you having bad dreams about things in the news?

   •   Tell your mum, dad or someone you trust - they could make you feel much better.

   •   Talk about your nightmare or even draw or paint it. Then think or draw a picture of how it could
       be better.

   •   Don't watch the news on TV just before you go to bed. Find out what's going on during the day
       when you can talk about it with someone else.

   •   Read a magazine, comic or your favourite book before you go to bed.

   •   Sleep with that favourite old teddy, rug or toy that used to make you feel safe and comfortable -
       it will probably do the same for you now -- even though you're older!

Useful websites with tips and information for Parents and Teacher

Traumatic Events, the Media & Your Child

Dealing with Loss & Grief

Teaching About Terrorism

The effects of media coverage of terrorist attacks on viewers.

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