Senior police staff have said that it is not wise to shield children from the dangers of terrorism. Instead, they should be taught about it in a way similar to how they are warned about ‘stranger danger.
They advise introducing kids to the government’s ‘Run, Hide, Tell’ campaign.
The campaign was first launched in Britain in the wake of the November 2015 Paris Bataclan attacks, after 130 people were killed across the French capital.
According to MI5, the UK’s current threat level for international terrorism continues to stand at ‘severe’ (meaning an attack is highly likely).
Speaking at the World Counter Terror Congress in London, assistant deputy commissioner Lucy D’Orsi, the National Police Chief’s Council spokesman for protective security, explained that any terrorist attack on a crowded building or busy public space is likely to affect children too.
“When I was at school, everybody used to talk about ‘stranger danger’, that was the sort of buzz phrase and it’s still a thing I remember today,” said D’Orsi.
“For me that messaging needs to be to children as well as to the broader public. If we take a lot of our crowded places, and some of the places that you will work in. We know that at keys times they are a hub that attracts a lot of young people to go to those places.”
D’Orsi encouraged parents and teachers to spread the messaging of ‘Run, Hide, Tell’, a campaign that instructs a person to run to a place of safety, rather than surrender or negotiate.
If there’s nowhere to go, then hide, as it’s better to hide than to confront. Then when it is safe to do so tell the police, making sure your phone is on silent, not vibrate.
For many parents, talking to their children about world events, especially violent ones close to home, is a difficult area of conversation, as they are wary of scaring your children.
But John Cameron, Head of NSPCC Helplines, explained to HuffPost UK: “Children today are more exposed to world events than ever and despite the urge to protect our children from what’s happening, [not talking to them] can mean their worries build up.”
Amanda Gummer, child psychologist and founder of Fundamentally Children added: “Honesty is always the best policy, but it’s important to acknowledge what is your own opinion and that there are other people who have different opinions.”