Rioting and Unrest Affect the Youngest Children, Too

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To the Editor:

A recent blog post about Baltimore schools' role in helping students there cope after the city's recent traumatic events powerfully illustrates young people's need for a safe outlet to express their feelings and understanding parents and teachers to guide them. But when considering the effect that traumatic events have on children, it's important not to forget our youngest and, in many ways, most vulnerable kids: those under age 3, who often don't have a voice and a structure like school to support them.

Although unable to ask questions as older children do, they're not immune to the impact of tragedies such as the Baltimore unrest. In fact, they are little listeners, aware of and affected by the events happening around them.

As a national nonprofit organization dedicated to the health and development of infants and toddlers, we urge adults to prevent the exposure of children under the age of 3 to traumatic events, whenever possible. They can do so by turning off televisions and radios and avoiding discussion of the events in children's presence. Most importantly, caregivers need to manage their own reactions, as even babies sense and respond to the emotions of their trusted adults.

Maintaining normal routines helps assure children all is well, they are safe, and their feelings and experiences matter—regardless of their age.

Matthew Melmed
Executive Director
Zero to Three
Washington, D.C.

Vol. 34, Issue 32, Page 28

Published in Print: June 3, 2015, as Rioting and Unrest Affect the Youngest Children, Too
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