Days after Dylann Roof took innocent Black lives inside of Emanuel A.M.E. church in Charleston, South Carolina, a makeshift memorial was set up outside the historically significant church. Dozens of parents brought their kids to the memorial to pray for and pay respect to the deceased and their family members.
Some children placed flowers on the memorial while others wept while standing in front of the site.
It can be a daunting task to explain hatred and terrorism to a child. However, when an incident such as the Charleston shooting occurs, parents are forced to talk with their kids about touchy subjects. In an age where information is only a mouse click away, it’s important for parents to control the narrative before their kids obtain the information from another source.
While in Charleston, we spoke with several parents who revealed how they explained racism and Dylann Roof’s terrorist attack to their kids.
When the tragedy in South Carolina occurred, how did you explain this to your young daughter because I saw that she was signing a card in honor of the individuals who died.
Erica Spencer : Well, I let her know that everyone is raised different[ly], everyone comes from a different background, and not all people are mean or evil, and that she needs to continue to pray for those who need guidance. We all need to trust in God that everything will be OK, and not to worry about things that we can’t control. What occurred in South Carolina really did have an effect on her. When I was in the shower, she turned on the TV and she knew that we were coming here beforehand, so she said that she didn’t want to go [because she was scared]. But I told her to pray for the young gentleman that committed this act, and also pray for the victims as well.
For the individuals who can’t be in South Carolina, what’s the best way that they can explain what happened here to their kids?
ES: First of all, you have to be able to explain to them that there are good and bad people and to never judge everyone’s actions based on just what one person did. Let them know that God is real, and if you keep him in your heart and mind, then everything will be OK. You have to believe, and keep encouraging your kids to pray every day and night.
Can you introduce yourself?
Brittney: My name is Brittney, and I’m here with my daughter Caroline and we live about 30 minutes up the road from where the shooting occurred. I actually went to College of Charleston, several years ago. She is six.
At 6 years old, was she really able to understand what was going on as far as the attacks are concerned?
B: I don’t think she fully understands right now. We just told her that families were hurt by an evil person, and that there are evil people and good people in the world. Regardless of the color of their skin, and that’s what I want her to understand. I can either shield her from all of this, or make her aware of what is going on.
For the individuals who can’t be in South Carolina, what’s the best way that they can explain what happened here, to their kids?
B: People who do things like this were taught to hate, and we can’t teach our kids to hate. Maybe we assume that because they are kids, they love everybody. We can’t assume that our kids love everybody, and just because someone has Black skin, and someone else has White skin doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t love that person any less than you would love someone else with the same skin color as you. We as parents can’t take a blind eye to these things.