Educating children about terrorism isn’t necessarily in the school curriculum, but it is something addressed and talked about after an attack.
Assistant Principle of The Regis School in Bognor Regis, Caroline Saunders explained how the day after the Manchester attack, their school prepared some material for the children to watch, predominantly taken from Newsround.
“They had some really good films to help them understand why this happens” she added.
Tutor groups at her secondary school are made up of a mixture of the years, with just 17 students per class.
“Tutor time is a really good time to talk about sensitive issues because you’ve got maturity in some of the older students who can support some of the younger ones” Caroline explained.
Caroline described how the children at her school are definitely aware of terrorism, but whether they understand it or not is a different thing.
“It’s a hard word to understand.
“But, just like adults, they can’t understand why it happens” said the Assistant Principle.
Recently, The Regis School had a ‘Diversity Awareness’ week which was lead by some of the Muslim students.
“They put together a session for tutor time around islamophobia and we had a local Imam come in and the children all tried different foods that would be served at Eid.
“What we try and do, is approach difficult subjects like terrorism in a more positive way” she explained.
Consultant clinical psychologist, Emma Citron, believes that putting terrorism into the school curriculum would be ‘too specific.’
“I think to hone in just on terrorism is probably giving it too much power and too much of a place.
“I mean why not the Holocaust or the atrocities in Serbia. I mean there’s a lot of other things that a school could hone in on, that arguably the children could draw more lessons out from.
“I’m not sure what lessons one could actually draw out from terrorism. I think that gives terrorism too much authority” she explained.
However, Aneela Mahmood who is part of the Since 9/11 charity who provide terrorism education in schools, has a very different outlook on it. She believes it is ‘absolutely necessary’ to teach about terrorism in schools.
“I think if it is something that is taught through the education system then it ensures that children are, in a way, being safeguarded. So if they are being exposed materials that they perhaps shouldn’t be, then that can be counteracted in the classroom and we can build up resilience in the classroom.
“I think if it isn’t taught as part of their education it becomes a bit trickier about what they’re being exposed to in terms of what they may be reading online” explained Ms Mahmood.
She believes that teaching terrorism in schools also provides children with a platform to voice their opinions.
“We would really like to see it being taught all over the country” she added.