Tips for Talking to Children About Violence By Julia Kolchinsky Dasbach

Tips for Talking to Children About Violence

1. Reassure children that they are safe.

Convince yourself first. Try. Drink enough
to stop shaking or to believe your hands
weren’t meant for anything else. Don’t jump
at every message from your child’s school.
Throw your smartphone to the curb
and let your child trample it. Violently.

2. Make time to talk.

I love you I love you I love you I love you
there is so little I love you I love you can do
you are my life but what can my words
do to save yours.

3. Keep explanations developmentally appropriate

Early Elementary:

Children are dying. Children like you. Yes, children
are shooting. Yes, adults are shooting. Yes, you
can own a gun. Yes, it is easy to own one, easy
to point and shoot. Easiest of all, to die.

Upper elementary and early middle:

Children are dying.
A gun                            is easy to own.

Upper middle and high school
Children like you.

4. Review safety procedures.

Breathe in. out. in. Breathe. Stay home.
This won’t help. Keep breathing.

5. Observe children’s emotional state.

Changes in behavior, appetite, sleep patterns.
In most children, symptoms will ease
with reassurance and time. If not, seek help.
Medication can help. Seek help. Help. Help.
But you aren’t eating or sleeping. Seek
help. You are not a child. Seek help.
Your child is not        a child in this world.

6. Limit television viewing of these events.

Don’t let them hear. Gunshots and sirens
outside your window. Ghosts howling.
Don’t let them open their eyes. The dead
are everywhere.

7. Maintain normal routine.

Hug your children. Hold them. Don’t push
if they seem overwhelmed. Just wait
for the next one to happen. It won’t
take long. Keep holding. Keep holding.
Keep hold. Keep

This poem was first published by Poets Reading the News

By Julia Kolchinsky Dasbach

A poem from Disarm: A Themed issue Responding to Mass Shootings in America


Julia Kolchinsky Dasbach emigrated from Dnepropetrovsk, Ukraine as a Jewish refugee when she was six years old. She holds an MFA in Poetry from the University of Oregon and is a Ph.D. candidate in Comparative Literature at the University of Pennsylvania, where her research focuses on contemporary American poetry about the Holocaust. Julia‘s poetry collection, The Many Names for Mother, won the Stan and Tom Wick Poetry Prize and is forthcoming from Kent State University Press in the Fall of 2019. She is also the author of The Bear Who Ate the Stars (Split Lip Press, 2014) and her recent poems appear in Best New PoetsAmerican Poetry Review, and Nashville Review, among others. Julia is also Editor-in-Chief of Construction Magazine (www. and when not busy chasing her toddler around the playgrounds of Philadelphia, she writes a blog about motherhood (https:// otherwomendonttellyou.

Leave a Reply