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The Impact of Exposure to Breaking News

More often than ever, we find ourselves processing the violent events following the news anchors' announcement of Breaking News.

Like never before, it is essential to protect eyegates and ear gates. Speaking life into difficult times and dark places can no longer be a suggestion but a mandate! Why? Because our lives depend on it!

We find ourselves processing another act of violence, a mass shooting, and a senseless loss of life. Over time, the number of casualties, the cities, the ages, and their story may even appear to become a blur. These feelings of numbness, anxiety, and even fear are becoming too familiar.

Consider this; while you're thinking you and your family are numb when hearing another Breaking News mass shooting headline, it is possible that you are not numb. Many people are experiencing the stress and even distress of each event with every passing day.

After the release of police footage of Tyre Nichols in Memphis, and the insurmountable amount of gun violence across the nation, should our focus really be what's today's Breaking News? Might I compel you to consider what about the "Breaking Hearts?" Whose heart is broken? Everyone impacted. Mothers who identify say, "It could have been my son." Men who say, "It almost was me!" The general public who repeatedly ask, "Why?"

How do we take care of ourselves? How do we provide support to children during these emotionally brittle times?

The ultimate goal is to provide an environment allowing the child to tell their story. Incorporate storytime into your daily family schedule. Reading to a child is valuable in assisting with initiating crucial conversations.

The children's book, "Is My Lollipop in Heaven?" written by Dr. Tyreese McAllister, a mother who lost her daughter to gun violence, is a great conversation starter. As a support for the adult, parents, guardians, educators, ministers, pediatricians, foster care workers, and anyone desiring to assist children with traumatic grief, the book, "Too Hard to Bite but not Too Hard to Lick: A Caregiver's Guide" is designed to equip adults to help children come to terms with the trauma associated with loss.

Taken from "Too Hard to Bite but not too Hard to Lick" by authors Dr. Tyreese McAlister and Dr. Jacquelin White Maxwell, the recommended process is as follows:

  • Engage the child in a dialogue about the story by asking questions that will provoke their reflection and emotional unburdening.

  • Show and express your genuine feelings as an adult concerning the child's loss or a change in the child's familiar pattern of behavior.

  • After viewing a disturbing news story, read the lollipop story to the child. Be sure to share your own grief story using feeling words (happy, sad, angry, mad, confused, numb, etc.).

  • As an adult, review Too Hard to Bite but not Too Hard to Lick: A Caregiver's Guide to gain further insight into ways to support yourself and the ones you love during trauma and loss.

  • Ensure that you use your authentic voice in sharing your feelings and story. While you should speak and communicate at the child's level, do not "sugarcoat" your own story, and do not "dumb it down" for the child.

  • Assist children in getting emotionally "unstuck" by empowering them to learn positive, effective ways to deal with their current and future losses.

The brokenness that we are experiencing becomes a matter of the heart. As an adult who cares about children, I encourage you to develop the strength to address these heart-wrenching issues and to master the spoken and unspoken languages to communicate with grieving children about what they're seeing and hearing throughout the nation.

For additional support and information, contact Dr. Jacquelin Maxwell at

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