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Parents worried pandemic will only exacerbate child care cost crisis

Paula M Naranjo/Parent Editor

Caitlin Mullen, Bizwomen contributor
Jul 6, 2020, 7:15 am EDT Updated: Jul 6, 2020, 11:50 am EDT

New shared services alliance brings business support to smaller child care providers in Massachusetts
Yellow Dog Productions. Fewer child care centers open, higher costs. That’s what parents are facing as the pandemic continues.

The cost of child care was already a looming crisis for many families. Some worry the pandemic will worsen the situation. 

Recent Care.com surveys found the coronavirus pandemic has only intensified the child care crisis for parents across the country. Close to half of parents (47%) are more worried about the cost of child care now than they were prior to the pandemic. Just over half of parents (52%) expect Covid-19 will inflate the cost of child care. 

More than 2,000 parents were surveyed on Covid-19’s effect on their child care situation, and more than 3,800 were polled about child care costs.

“Our economic recovery rests on people’s ability to get back to work, and for parents, that makes child care indispensable. But with social distancing, remote work and the closure of businesses that many parents rely on, a new dynamic of childcare is quickly emerging, and if we don’t take action now to solve this childcare crisis, there will be huge ramifications for all of us,” Care.com CEO Tim Allen said, per Care.com. 

Prior to the pandemic, affording child care was a challenge for many. Now, parents have struggled to manage work with children at home, or face job or wage cuts. 

Many worry about their ability to afford child care going forward, or how a return to work could be possible if children aren’t back at school full-time. School districts are working on fall plans, considering in-person and remote learning, and those plans matter to the 40% of workers between ages 20 and 54 who have children at home, per Axios

“It feels like child care is being regarded as a footnote of reopening plans rather than a headline. But until schools properly reopen, there cannot be a return to business as usual,” Sarah Lux-Lee, CEO of consultancy Mindr, told Axios. 

The Center for American Progress has projected daycare center closures across the country could wipe out 4.5 million slots for children. This means fewer available slots at remaining child care centers, plus expenses related to stringent safety procedures at such facilities, will mean a bigger bill for families, reports Axios. 

Of parents polled by Care.com, 45% ranked the pandemic’s impact on their child care situation as an 8, 9 or 10 on a scale of 1-10, revealing just how many families are struggling to manage it all.   

“We are not burned out because life is hard this year. We are burned out because we are being rolled over by the wheels of an economy that has bafflingly declared working parents inessential,” Deb Perelman, Smitten Kitchen food blogger, recently wrote in The New York Times

Just 7% of parents believe returning to a normal routine is safe right now, per Care.com. More than half (52%) don’t expect things will return to normal until next year or until a vaccine is developed; in areas particularly hard-hit by Covid-19, 63% felt this. 

Sending their children back to daycare makes 63% of parents somewhat or very uncomfortable, and 35% are now considering in-home child care instead. About 54% of Americans are uncomfortable about K-12 schools reopening for the upcoming school year, a Politico-Morning Consult poll found.

No surprise to working women: 41% of parents polled said mom has handled the majority of extra child care work during the pandemic; only 15% said dad has taken on most of it.

Almost all of those polled (96%) said government and business leaders should provide additional financial support for child care if American workers are expected to resume normal routines. 

More than 70% of parents are spending 10% or more of their household income on child care. Fifty-five percent of families spend at least $10,000 annually on child care. 

Interestingly, 60% of parents didn’t think the cost of child care would affect their career moves, but 54% admitted they’ve made workplace changes to afford care. More than 70% said their job has been affected when child care plans fell through on short notice, per Care.com.

“What scares me the most about this pandemic is that it forces me out of the workforce. Without full-time quality child care and the ability to work on my business, I sort of get squeezed out,” working mother Katie Ring told CNBC.

We would love to hear from you, have a story, tip or recipe you would like to share with our readers? Feel free to email it to throughlovewelearn@gmail.com. 

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Downloadable workbook can help kids cope during pandemic as parents fear worsened ‘summer slide’

Paula M Naranjo/Parent Editor

by Fox 28 Spokane | July 6, 2020 5:12 am

This summer, parents may be concerned that their school-age children’s “summer slide” will be even impacted during the pandemic.

Experts say it’s not just been learning loss, but learning that never happened.

There are several resources for parents that are fearing the impact of the summer slide.

Denise Daniels along with Scholastic and Yale Child Study Center have published a 16-page downloadable workbook to help kids cope during the COVID-19 pandemic.

We would love to hear from you, have a story, tip or recipe you would like to share with our readers? Feel free to email it to throughlovewelearn@gmail.com. 

Nos encantaría saber de usted, tener una historia, un consejo o una receta que le gustaría compartir con nuestros lectores. No dude en enviarlo por correo electrónico a través throughlovewelearn@gmail.com.

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What white parents get wrong about raising antiracist kids — and how to get it right

Paula M Naranjo/Parent

By Melinda Wenner Moyer June 25, 2020 at 8:00 a.m. CDT

The world feels broken right now — not just cracked in a few places but shattered in a million pieces. It’s been this way for centuries, of course, but many Americans — white Americans — are just starting to wake up and grapple with the depth of this country’s deeply rooted racism, as well as the role they played in making it so.

As a white parent, I feel a deep responsibility to provide my children with the tools and awareness to help rebuild our society into something better. I know I’m not alone, but I also know many white parents don’t know how or where to start. Research suggests that we need to confront our unfounded assumptions about how and why racism develops, and then we need to engage with our children regularly about race, racism and anti-racism. This is something that parents of color do regularly, because they have to; white parents need to do it, too.

Children aren’t colorblind

One of the biggest misconceptions white parents have is that their children don’t notice race unless it is pointed out to them. The underlying assumption is that children only become racist if they are taught to be. In fact, research clearly shows the opposite: Kids develop racial prejudice unless their parents or teachers directly engage with them about it.

In a 2005 study, psychologist David J. Kelly and his colleagues found that 3-month-old babies can distinguish faces on the basis of race and show preferences toward faces of their own race. By the time kids are toddlers, they behave in prejudiced ways, too.

In a landmark study, developmental psychologist Phyllis Katz, founder of the Institute for Research on Social Problems in Colorado, regularly observed more than 200 children, half black and half white, from the time they were 6 months old until they were nearly 6 years old. “I think it is fair to say that at no point in the study did the children exhibit the Rousseau type of colorblindness that many adults expect,” Katz wrote in a 2003 summary in American Psychologist. When 3-year-olds were shown photos of children of different races and asked to choose whom they might like to be friends with, one-third of the black kids chose only photos of other black kids, but 86 percent of the white kids only chose photos of other white kids.

More recently, in a 2012 study, researchers asked white mothers of preschoolers — parents who were well-educated and did not show any overt racial bias themselves — how racially prejudiced they thought their kids were. Most said they believed their kids harbored no prejudice. When the researchers evaluated the kids, though, many said they wouldn’t want black friends. When the researchers later told the parents what their kids had said, parents were shocked, distressed and embarrassed.

Naomi O’Brien, a black parent and primary school educator in Denver, says she sees her white students saying and doing racist things all the time. They’ll say, “ ‘Well, because their skin is black, or their skin is like mud, or their skin looks dirty, I don’t want to sit next to them,’ ” O’Brien says. “And then their parents come to you wondering why you brought up race to their child who ‘doesn’t see color,’ even though they just made somebody feel less than or hurt their friend’s feelings strictly based on race.”

Creating a narrative

man in red crew neck t-shirt sitting on gray concrete bench

Kids develop racial prejudices for a number of reasons. For one thing, they can readily see how race and power intersect in the world around them. They notice that the heroes in their TV shows are usually white (and often, the bad guys are not), that most politicians are white, that the wealthiest families at school are white. They notice schools and communities tend to self-segregate by race, which confirms their suspicion that race is an important social construct. In her book “Why Are All the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria? And Other Conversations About Race,” Spelman College psychologist Beverly Tatum writes that “cultural racism — the cultural images and messages that affirm the assumed superiority of Whites and the assumed inferiority of people of color — is like a smog in the air. Sometimes it is so thick it is visible, other times it is less apparent, but always, day in and day out, we are breathing it in.”

So kids breathe this racially charged air — and if their parents and teachers don’t help to explain to them what race means (and what it doesn’t), kids start to create their own narratives. They often infer that racial hierarchies exist because of innate differences between people of different races and so start to believe that whites are privileged because they are inherently better and smarter. “They think there has to be a reason and no one explains it, so then they make up reasons — and a lot of kids make up biased, racist reasons,” explains Rebecca Bigler, a professor emeritus at the University of Texas at Austin, who has spent decades studying how prejudice develops in kids.

Other psychological tendencies also fuel racism in children. Kids are “essentialist” thinkers, meaning they assume that if people are the same on the outside, they must also be the same on the inside.

They also use transductive reasoning, assuming that when people are alike in one way (such as skin color) they are alike in other ways as well (e.g. they are all equally smart or capable). Kids show what’s called “in-group” bias, too, which means that they tend to prefer people who are members of groups they also belong to; children may subconsciously think, this kid looks like me, therefore I like him, and, conversely, this kid doesn’t look like me, so I’ll keep my distance.

Talk about race — explicitly

So how do we unravel and challenge the racist ideas that form in our kids’ minds? We must, for a start, have regular conversations with them about race and skin color. In a study published in 2011, Brigitte Vittrup, a developmental psychologist at Texas Woman’s University, and George Holden, a psychologist at Southern Methodist University, asked parents to discuss race with their 5- to 7-year-old white kids over the course of a week. Afterward, the kids who had these conversations with their parents showed less racial bias than the kids who didn’t.

Unfortunately, though, white parents rarely have conversations about race with their kids — even when race seems like an obvious thing to discuss. In the same 2012 study mentioned earlier, researchers videotaped the mothers as they read a race-themed book to their 4- and 5-year-olds. Somehow, 94 percent of the mothers managed to read the book “without making any comments about race or ethnicity, diversity, or intergroup contact,” the authors wrote. Even when the kids asked their mothers specific questions about race, the mothers tended to avoid answering them. Some of the mothers alluded to race, saying vague things like “we should treat everyone equally” or “even if we look different, we’re all the same on the inside,” but rarely did the mothers explicitly discuss skin color or racial differences.

This is a problem, because young kids often don’t interpret vague references to race as being about race. In a 2010 study, researchers at Northwestern University and other institutions had elementary school students read a book about a teacher’s efforts to promote racial equality. For half of the students, the teacher’s efforts were described vaguely, like “we need to focus on how similar we are to our neighbors rather than how we are different.” For the other half, the teacher referred explicitly to race, in that she said things like “we want to show everyone that race is important because our racial differences make each of us special.” After the students read the books, they were tested to see how well they could recognize racism portrayed in short vignettes. The kids who heard the teacher explicitly refer to race were better at identifying bias than the kids who were given vague messages about kindness and equality.

There’s nothing wrong with using books to help you talk with your kids about race, of course but be sure that you actually connect the dots for your kids. “Tell them ‘the characters in this book are Asian,’ or ‘the characters in this book are black,’ ” O’Brien suggested. “Be direct and intentional.”

When kids ask things like “why does that lady have dark skin?” white parents often shame or shush their kids because they’re not sure how to respond or because they’re worried the question itself is offensive. We should remind ourselves that our kids were just being inquisitive, and that shushing them sends the message that they aren’t allowed to ask or learn about race.

“In general, kids are asking questions out of curiosity and trying to understand,” says Nia Heard-Garris, a pediatrician at Northwestern’s Feinberg School of Medicine and the chair and founding member of the American Academy of Pediatrics’ Provisional Section of Minority Health, Equity, and Inclusion. If we shush our kids for asking about race, we are telling them that race is taboo and not something they can talk to you about— which means they’ll be left to fill in the blanks themselves in potentially prejudiced ways.

The more we can lean into conversations about race, even if they make us uncomfortable, the better. “I always say, ‘Stop being weird about race’ — the more we talk about it, and see color, [the more] it gets normalized,” says LaNesha Tabb, a primary educator and black mother who lives in Indianapolis and co-creator of Education with an Apron with O’Brien to educate parents on talking with their kids about race and racism. (Also, they have a terrific “White Families’ Guide for Talking About Racism: How Can We Grow to Be Anti-Racist?” as well as guides for black families and families of color.)

So what should you tell your kids about race? Start by explaining why skin colors vary: because of how much melanin people have in their skin. You can emphasize across-race similarities and between-race differences; you might point out that your child and her friend are both white but are different in various ways. Likewise, you might emphasize that although she and her black friend have different skin colors, they have lots of things in common. (This said, don’t downplay the cultural importance of race — while it’s okay to emphasize that skin color doesn’t have much biological significance, you should acknowledge that skin color does have a lot of cultural and historical meaning.)

If your kids say or do something racist, you should help them understand why it was not okay. Tabb and O’Brien suggest saying something like, “Thank you for being honest. I’ve felt that way before, too, but here’s why that’s racist and wrong.” Intention doesn’t matter; even if your child didn’t mean to say or do something racist, it nevertheless did harm, and they need to know that. Likewise, it’s important to remember that wecan do racist things even if we don’t think of ourselves as racist. “Everyone’s definition of racism is, like, the Ku Klux Klan — if you’re not wearing a white hood, then you can’t be racist. And you absolutely can be,” Tabb says.

Use the momentum of the moment

man in black jacket holding white and black i love you print board

Right now, of course, there are ample ways and reasons to bring up the topic of race and racism, even with little kids. When my 5-year-old saw photos of the protests in our newspaper, she asked what was happening. My husband and I told her about George Floyd, about the protests and about Black Lives Matter. A few days later, she asked more questions about black history that led to a long conversation about slavery and the Underground Railroad. We’re reading a biography of Harriet Tubman.

In fact, white parents can do a lot more than just talk to kids about race — we can lead by example and help kids understand the importance of being anti-racist, actively fighting against racist norms and policies. If you witness someone saying something racist, challenge them (ideally in front of your kids), Tabb suggests. Brainstorm ways together to get involved in the Black Lives Matter movement. If you don’t feel comfortable bringing your family to protests, have your kids organize something smaller and local. Make signs for your yard or your front window. Kids can write letters to politicians or help you choose which charities to donate to. “It’s really important to show kids at a young age that things can be changed, and to not feel helpless or powerless,” Heard-Garris says.

We and our children need to keep growing and understanding, even when the momentum of the moment dies down. Engage your kids with the issue of race even (if not especially) when diversity is absent. If you watch a show together and notice that all the characters are white, talk about race and white privilege. (Why do you think all the kids in this show are white? How do you think black kids who watch this show feel?) It’s crucial that we help our children see that black voices are absent from so many important conversations, that black faces are absent from so many spheres of society, to recognize the persistent injustice and demand lasting change

We would love to hear from you, have a story, tip or recipe you would like to share with our readers? Feel free to email it to throughlovewelearn@gmail.com. 

Paula M Naranjo

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Tips parents should know as kids and teens continue to connect largely through social media

Paula M Naranjo/Parent Editor

Author: Kara Sewell | Published: 8:36 AM CDT June 23, 2020 Updated: 8:36 AM CDT June 23, 2020

A few ways to model good behavior when it comes to technology include keeping “do not disturb” hours and setting time limits, an expert said.

TikTok downloads skyrocketed during quarantine and teens and kids alike have continued to use social media to keep up with their peers during their time apart.

The Dallas Children’s Advocacy Center is urging parents to get involved on those social media sites this summer and use them as another tool to communicate with their kids, and to keep up with what happens in their virtual worlds. 

The center has helped around 7,000 people in 2020, and therapist Michelle Rodgers has worked with many of them. She’s seen a wide range of abuse, including the powerful affect social media can have on a person.

She says it’s important parents make sure to communicate that message to their kids. 

“My first and probably biggest tip is to teach your children accountability when they’re online and using social media,” she said. “So, this means teaching them that there’s a face on the other side of that screen and talking to them about things like cyber-bullying and internet safety.” 

television showing man using binoculars

Teaching empathy is a big piece of the puzzle, too.

“We’ve seen that children’s empathy is being affected by that rise in social media and technology,” Rodgers explained.

She also wants to remind parents that their children are looking to their cues for guidance and model their behavior. 

“It’s that old saying of practice what you preach.”

A few ways to do that when it comes to technology include keeping “do not disturb” hours and setting time limits, Rodgers said. Put your phones away before bed and keep them out of your child’s room throughout the night.

She also encourages parents to get familiar with the apps their kids want to use before they download an app, and keep track of their location settings and find out who could have access to their kids through an app.

“I want to encourage parents and caregivers to start having these conversations way earlier than they believe that they need to,” Rodgers said. “We just want you to alter those conversations to make sure they’re age-appropriate.”

But conversations should really start as soon as kids begin to interact with a phone.

“Caregivers really have to go the extra mile to try out these applications, see what’s going on, talk to their children about it. I know a lot of parents have flooded to TikTok during this time because we’ve seen that rise during this pandemic, and I think that’s wonderful,” she said.

turned on gold iphone 6

Extended family members can ask to play a role, too, especially in coordination with a parent’s efforts. 

“Ask that parent and caregiver what support they want on certain things,” Rodgers said. “You might be savvier in an app then their parents are, so that might be the thing that you might talk about,.”

It takes a village, an old proverb that still rings true to keeping kids healthy and safe in a new world. 

We would love to hear from you, have a story, tip or recipe you would like to share with our readers? Feel free to email it to throughlovewelearn@gmail.com. 

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Best moments from CNN and Sesame Street’s town hall on racism for kids and parents

Paula M Naranjo/Parent Editor

By Leah Asmelash, CNN | Updated 12:21 PM ET, Sat June 6, 2020

Elmo and his dad, Louie, talk about racism and protesting 

(CNN) CNN partnered with “Sesame Street” for a special town hall about racism, giving both kids and parents an opportunity to explore the current moment the nation is living through and to understand how these issues affect people.

“Coming Together: Standing Up To Racism” aired Saturday morning and left no stone unturned — discussing everything from how to fight racism when you see it and who to call when police officers are being unsafe.

The hour-long program featured “Sesame Street” characters like Elmo, Abby Cadabby and Rosita. Together, they — along with experts — answered questions submitted by families.

The event was moderated by CNN political commentator Van Jones, CNN anchor and national correspondent Erica Hill, and Big Bird.

Here are some key takeaways from the conversation.

Elmo learns about racism and protesting

As a three-year-old, Elmo may not know that much about the way systemic racism works — which can make understanding protests over the death of George Floyd difficult. Luckily, his father, Louie, was up to the challenge, explaining racism and the protests to his son.Elmo's father Louie, right, explains to Elmo what racism is and why people are protesting now.Elmo’s father Louie, right, explains to Elmo what racism is and why people are protesting now.”Racism is when people treat other people unfairly because of the way they look or the color of their skin,” Louie told Elmo. “Not all streets are like Sesame Street. On Sesame Street, we all love and respect on another. Across the country, people of color, especially in the black community, are being treated unfairly because of how they look, their culture, race and who they are.”

“Louie continued, “What we are seeing is people saying, ‘Enough is enough.’ They want to end racism.

“Elmo, despite his young age, understood. He wants to end racism, too, he said.

Atlanta Mayor answers the hard questions

Keisha Bottoms, the mayor of Atlanta, answered questions from both children and parents about why black people continue to be mistreated in society, and whether it’s too early to explain to young kids the protests occurring around the world.

Mother asks Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms how to explain racism to kids

Mother asks Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms how to explain racism to kids 04:03

“I don’t think it’s too early because we’re seeing it anyway,” she said. “They’re seeing it on TV, they’re seeing it on their iPads … I just think we have to speak to it in the context in which they’ll understand it.

“To kids, Bottoms had this advice.

“Just keep being who you are, keep loving each other and when you see someone who is doing something wrong or saying something wrong, say that it’s wrong,” she said. “Say it with love and just lead by love.”

Countering white privilege in young kids

Abby Cadabby explained her own experience seeing racism, revealing how Big Bird was once bullied for his yellow feathers and size. It wasn’t kind or fair, she said.

Abby Cadabby shares a personal story

Abby Cadabby shares a personal story 16:16

Jennifer Harvey, author of “Raising White Kids: Bringing Up Children in a Racially Unjust America,” and Beverly Daniel Tatum, author of “Why are all the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria?” spoke about white privilege and raising racially-conscious kids.

“White communities are not negatively impacted by racism, and sometimes we get unjust access to things just because we’re white, not because we deserve it,” said Harvey. “The most dangerous kind of white privilege is to think that we can sit this justice struggle out.

“Tatum discussed the variety of children’s books available for parents to read to their kids, books that unpack differences in skin color, hair texture or eye shape, and ones that even address police violence

We would love to hear from you, have a story, tip or recipe you would like to share with our readers? Feel free to email it to throughlovewelearn@gmail.com. 

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George Floyd. Ahmaud Arbery. Breonna Taylor. What do we tell our children?

Alia E. Dastagir USA TODAY | Published 8:45 a.m. ET May 31, 2020

Should we tell the children? How?

Those are among the many questions parents are asking after the recent deaths of George FloydAhmaud Arbery and Breonna Taylor. Many white parents wonder whether to talk with their kids at all, while parents of color swallow their  grief and fear to have “the talk” once again.

These deaths are part of a more complex story, one some parents have been telling for generations, and others have long felt they’ve had the luxury to ignore. But experts in child psychology and race-based stress say these conversations are essential for all parents to have, and they underscore that there are developmentally appropriate ways to talk to children of all ages about racism and police brutality.

“Silence will not protect you or them,” said Beverly Daniel Tatum, a psychologist and author of, Why Are All The Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria? And Other Conversations About Race. “Avoiding the topic is not a solution.”

Racism persists, experts say, because many parents avoid difficult conversations.

A child holds an American Flag as protestors march through the streets on May 29, 2020, in St Louis, Missouri.

“One of the most important things to remember is that you may not have all the answers and that is OK,” said Erlanger Turner, a clinical psychologist and assistant professor of psychology at Pepperdine University who studies mental health among racial communities. 

USA TODAY spoke with Tatum and Turner about how to talk with children about racial violence:

Why is it important to talk with children about what happened to George Floyd and other incidents of police brutality or racism in the news?

Beverly Daniel Tatum: Even young children may see or hear about highly publicized incidents like the George Floyd case – perhaps overhearing the TV or the radio –  and may ask questions. Or if parents are upset by the news, the child may perceive the parent’s distress and ask why mom or dad is upset. In either case, an age-appropriate explanation is better than silence. Older children with Internet access may see online images on their own. Initiating an age-appropriate conversation can give children a helpful frame for understanding difficult realities. If parents are silent, children will draw their own often faulty conclusions about what is happening and why.

Erlanger Turner: Many adults are hurt and angered by these events and their children may notice changes in their mood. It is helpful to have a healthy conversation around what happened and also talk about ways to cope when you witness social injustice. 

Does COVID-19 warrant avoiding these conversations, given many children are already struggling with fear, anxiety and uncertainty? 

BDT: No. Not talking about upsetting events only fuels fear, anxiety and uncertainty.  Being able to talk about something with a supportive adult can reduce fear, anxiety and uncertainty. Parents may avoid the conversation because they don’t know what to say, but it is a mistake to think that their silence is helpful.Get the Coronavirus Watch newsletter in your inbox.

ET: I don’t think that anxiety and fear about COVID-19 should stop a parent from talking about police brutality. This issue has been increasing in concern over the last few years as the number of black and brown people killed by police continue to rise. I think if you do talk with your child don’t leave them in a high state of worry. Make sure to end the conversation by engaging in a pleasant activity after the difficult discussion so they won’t stay worried or afraid. 

How do parents start these conversations and how does that change depending on the age of their children?

ET: I think the first place to start a conversation around racism and police brutality is with honesty. Take ownership of your feelings and be comfortable sharing those feelings with your child. Then you can begin to allow them to share what they may already know about racial differences. I think that it is always good to allow children to share their opinion and understanding before you offer information.

For younger children conversations about racism should be limited to basic facts about how people are treated differently due to the color of their skin but also acknowledge that not everyone treats people differently based on race. For older teens, parents can consider exposure to news or social media posts as discussion points about this issue. 

BDT: Regardless of the age of the child, it is important to balance acknowledging the reality of racism, or unfairness, with messages about the possibility of change, and the community of allies who are working together to make things better.

If a child of color asks if a police officer is going to kill them, what do you say?

BDT: The answer will depend on the age of the child.  If it is a young child, a parent can be reassuring.  “No, honey, you don’t have to worry about that. Police officers don’t want to hurt you.”

In response to an older child, it can be reassuring to say something like: “I know that it is scary to think that something like that might happen, and I really don’t want you to worry about anything like that. I know that most police officers want to help people, and most police officers never fire their guns. But sometimes they do get nervous and make mistakes. So it is important for you to know what to do if a police officer ever stops you…”

Black parents often refer to this as “the talk” they have to have with their adolescent sons to increase the odds they will survive an encounter with a police officer if and when they are stopped.

ET: That is a tough question. Depending on the age of the child, they may have some awareness of youth that have been killed by police. Obviously you don’t want to respond in a way that is going to make children be more fearful for their safety. In my opinion, I think that you should let children know that most police officers work to protect them and their community. 

people in blue shirts and white hat standing on street during daytime

If a child says they are afraid or angry, what do you say?

BDT: Acknowledge the child’s feelings. The parent may have similar feelings. “I know it’s upsetting to hear about and see these things happening. It upsets me too when bad things like this happen. Racism is very unfair. But it makes me feel better to know there are lots of people who want to change things.” Being able to offer specific examples of community change agents would be useful. Being able to talk about what family members are doing to speak up against unfairness is especially useful. Actions always speak louder than words.

ET: If a child tells you that they are angry, that is appropriate. Don’t force them to hide their emotional expression. However, be sure to help them identify ways to express their anger in a healthy manner which may include journaling or exercising to release the energy from their body. 

If a child is afraid for one of their friends, what do you say?

BDT: “I can see that you are worried about your friend. What do you think we could do that might help him or her?” Depending on the situation, this could be an opportunity to talk about what it means to be an ally, and how to stand in solidarity with another person.

ET: If a child is afraid for one of their friends, talk with them about those emotions. Allow the child to express why they may be afraid and help them identify how they can check on their friend’s safety to ease their anxiety or fear. Part of what increases anxiety is the fear of the unknown. If you have a plan of action it will reduce some of those fears. 

How can parents talk about law enforcement in a way that is honest but also doesn’t discourage children from seeking help from law enforcement when appropriate?

BDT: Most police officers become police officers because they want to help people. And there are times when we would really want a police officer to help us – give some examples – if there’s been a car accident, or if someone took something that belonged to us, etc. But sometimes a police officer does something bad, like today. When that happens, we might start to think that all police officers are like that.  But it’s important to remember that that is not true.

ET: I think that it is very important to talk with the children about law enforcement. For example, you can talk with them about how they protect rules in society such as making sure that people don’t drive too fast so they won’t harm themselves or others. Providing clear examples about the ways that law enforcement helps society will allow the child to better understand. You can also be honest about situations such as police brutality and let children know that some police officers break laws. If you have a trusted officer in your community it may be good to also allow the child to talk with them in person to reduce their fear.  

Should these conversations be different depending on the race of the child?

BDT: Children of color are likely to experience racist encounters as they get older.  They need to be helped to understand their own worth and feel affirmed in their identity as young people of color despite the negative messages they may get from others.  Parents of color want to raise self-confident and empowered children who are not demoralized by other people’s racism. This requires lots of conversation about racism and how to resist it in an ongoing way throughout their children’s lives.

White children are often racially isolated as a consequence of segregated schools and neighborhoods, and consequently limited in their understanding of people different from themselves.  White parents who want to interrupt the cycle of racism must learn to talk to their children about it and model their own anti-racist activity.

ET: According to research, white parents often don’t talk with their children about race or may emphasize “not seeing color.” The concept of colorblindness or “not seeing color” is more harmful than helpful and does not honor an individual’s identity. … For white families, research suggests … conversations should focus on raising anti-racist children and encouraging more friendships with children from others races.

Many of these deaths garner attention because footage of it goes viral. What should we say if our child asks to see it? 

BDT: There are many adults who don’t want to see such footage. I would not show it to a child at all. Once an image is in your head, it is very difficult to get it out. That said, it is reasonable to describe what happened and talk about why it was wrong. It is also likely that children with Internet access can view the footage without an adult’s permission or assistance. Talking about it after the fact will help children process their feelings.

ET: You should not show your children these videos as it may increase the likelihood of them experiencing symptoms of trauma or having nightmares. What we know from research on witnessing disasters is that individuals may be at a higher risk of developing post-traumatic stress disorder even through indirect exposure to these events. 

What do we say if, in the course of this conversation, a child says something racist?

BDT: Inquire about it with curiosity, not judgment. “I’m wondering why you said that…”  After hearing more about what the child is thinking, you can offer correction by providing new information. “You know, a lot of people might think that is true, but I don’t because….” 

ET: I think the first thing to do is to not get defensive. You want to foster open communication with your child. However, I think you should explore why they have that opinion, where did they learn it from, and tell them why what they said was wrong. It might be helpful for you as a parent to think about ways that you may have unconsciously expressed racist attitudes. 

How can parents explain the uprisings in a way that doesn’t condone violence but also doesn’t minimize the sense of injustice fueling them?

BDT: Children understand the concept of unfairness as well as the experience of frustration. Years and years of unfairness – racism – results in intense anger and frustration. The conversation can then be about what we must do to fix the continuing unfairness.

ET: I think it is important for parents to be honest. Share your hurt, anger, or disappointment with your child. You should also talk about different ways to protest social injustice such as calling your local politicians office or even visit their office to talk with them about policy change to reduce injustice. 

Resources for parents

Poll reveals half of parents unconvinced that school is safe for their children’s return

Michael Savage | Sun 24 May 2020 02.41 EDT

Teachers’ union leader warns situation ‘untenable’ as health officials say track and trace system has been left too late

An empty playground at Milton St. John’s Primary School in Mossley, Greater Manchester.
 An empty playground at Milton St. John’s Primary School in Mossley, Greater Manchester. Photograph: Anthony Devlin/Getty Images

Parents are divided over the prospect of sending their children back to school, a new poll has revealed, as parent groups warned that mixed messages and poor communication had caused widespread anxiety about returning.

With school leaders still grappling with the practicalities of reopening primary schools for some year groups in just a week’s time in England, an Opinium poll for the Observer found that 43 per cent of primary school parents and 54 per cent of secondary school parents feel anxious about the prospects of returning.

Primary schools have been instructed to prepare to bring back reception, year 1 and year 6 classes, as well as their early years provision. However, councils of all political colours have suggested they will not follow the advice, while Welsh and Scottish schools will wait to reopen.

There are now also concerns that the return of pupils has become such a chaotic issue that it could worsen the attainment gap between affluent and poor areas and families. Some teaching unions have suggested the families of vulnerable children have been more reluctant to see them return to school. David Laws, the former education minister who now oversees the Education Policy Institute, said that a widening divide was a “significant risk”

John Jolly, chief executive of the parent group Parentkind, said there was confusion about the reopening of schools. “Parents are looking for certainty,” he said. “Some want the certainty of saying schools are safe and we’re going back. Some want the certainty of keeping children out of school until there is a vaccine, which may reflect families with underlying conditions. Then you have other parents that want a clear timeline.

“Parents are not convinced about messages around schools being safe. They are not sure about that message from the government, or that the evidence for that is being communicated. There is a lot of uncertainty about the message being communicated by schools locally.”

Mary Bousted, the joint general secretary of the National Education Union, warned the situation on the ground was now “chaotic and increasingly untenable”. “Not only are school leaders having to think about how to reopen schools, but how they convince parents that their children should go back, and organise the school site. Then they don’t know how many staff they will have. Schools are vital for society. But they have to be safe.”Advertisement

However, professor Russell Viner, president of the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health, said schools should be allowed to reopen. “Covid-19 generally barely affects children and young people and actually we’ve shown that they are about half as susceptible,” he told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme. “There is no doubt in my mind for children themselves, the balances are clearly in favour of going back to school.” He said the risks to family and the community could be managed with an effective track and trace system and a phased return.

While a working track and trace system is seen as necessary for rules around schools and other parts of the lockdown to be loosened, several local government sources warned that councils were now facing a race against time. There have been complaints that local public health officials have been sidelined during the pandemic, despite their expertise. They are now being drafted in as part of several pilots of the track and trace system, but insiders warn they now face huge time pressures.

Professor Donna Hall, head of the New Local Government Network, said: “At the beginning of March, public health directors were quite rapidly cut out of the national pandemic response. They are there for all aspects of public health, working on things like HIV, hepatitis, pandemic flu. Disease control is their job. They are highly skilled … but they’ve been cut out in quite a strange way.

“Other countries have deployed local resilience forums for testing and tracing. A national contact centre is never going to get to the granular detail you need for contact tracing. I’ve been out with the people who do it – they are forensic. You won’t get that through an app. It is people on the ground, observing how a disease spreads. It could be from a petrol pump or a salt shaker. That’s the kind of detail needed.

“They may be piloting things, but we’ve left it really late for that. Not giving local government a big role is foolish and dangerous.”

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Judge demands ICE better explain why it won’t release 350 parents, children

By Nomaan MerchantUpdated 31 minutes ago

MerchantUpdated 31 minutes ago

Doctors and others protest conditions that detainees being held by ICE face outside of the Broward Transitional Center, during the COVID-19 crisis, May 1, in Pompano Beach, Fla. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)HOUSTON — A federal judge on Friday criticized the Trump administration’s handling of detained immigrant children and families, ordering the government to give the court detailed information about its efforts to quickly release them in the wake of the coronavirus.

U.S. District Judge Dolly M. Gee on Friday ordered the U.S. government to better explain why it hasn’t released some of the approximate 350 parents and children in three family detention centers.

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement has come under fire for allegedly asking parents in custody if they would allow their children to be released without them.

Parents at all three facilities — one in Pennsylvania and two in Texas — were called into short meetings and asked if there were sponsors available to care for their children, lawyers who represent the families reported that late last week. They were then asked to sign a form.

ICE has declined to release the form.

Gee wrote that she didn’t find that ICE officially sought to get those formal waivers, but that officers’ conversations with detained parents “caused confusion and unnecessary emotional upheaval and did not appear to serve the agency’s legitimate purpose of making continuous individualized inquiries regarding efforts to release minors.”

While some parents reported slightly different details, the lawyers said they broadly believed they were being asked to choose between staying in custody with their children or letting their children leave.

“They were asking mothers to separate from their 1-year-old infants to go to a sponsor that perhaps had never even met or known the child,” said Bridget Cambria, executive director of the group ALDEA, which represents families at the ICE detention center in Leesport, Pennsylvania.

The Trump administration again faced allegations that it is trying to separate immigrant families as part of an overall border crackdown. The separation of immigrant families drew bipartisan condemnation in 2018 when the Trump administration implemented a “zero tolerance” policy on southern border crossings.

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement accused advocates of making “misrepresentations” and says it remains in compliance with President Donald Trump’s June 2018 executive order intended to stop family separation. In a statement Thursday, the agency said the form was used as part of a “routine parole review consistent with the law” and Gee’s previous orders.

“The court recognized that parents, not the government, should decide whether the juvenile should be released to a sponsor,” the agency said. “To comply with this order, ICE was required to check with each of the juveniles – and their parents – in custody … to make individual parole determinations with respect to those juveniles.”

In court papers filed May 15, the government noted more than 170 times that it had refused to release children currently in detention because the “parent does not wish to separate.” It labeled many children as flight risks without providing more specifics.

Gee wrote that she didn’t find that ICE officially sought to get those formal waivers, but that officers’ conversations with detained parents “caused confusion and unnecessary emotional upheaval and did not appear to serve the agency’s legitimate purpose of making continuous individualized inquiries regarding efforts to release minors.”

On Friday, Gee called on the government and advocates to devise a new process to determine whether families could be released.

Gee oversees a court settlement known as the Flores agreement, which controls how the U.S. is supposed to treat migrant children in its custody.

During the coronavirus pandemic, the U.S. government has imposed an effective ban on the entry of families and children seeking asylum. It has expelled hundreds of children within a few days of their crossing the border with Mexico instead of turning them over to government facilities designed to care for them, as normally required by federal law.

The agency says it releases most families from its detention centers within 20 days, the general limit under the Flores settlement for holding children in a secure facility.

But many families currently in custody have been detained for months, some since last year.

Advocates contend that ICE should release all families from detention especially as the coronavirus has spread rapidly through immigration detention, with more than 1,100 people contracting COVID-19 and a positive test rate of about 50%. At ICE’s largest family detention center in Dilley, Texas, the detainees include a child with epilepsy, a 1-year-old with breathing problems, and several children with heart murmurs, according to Shalyn Fluharty, director of the legal group Proyecto Dilley.

ICE says it has released hundreds of people deemed to have heightened exposure to the virus, though it has contested lawsuits across the country demanding the releases of others.

The Trump administration is also currently appealing Gee’s order last year stopping it from terminating the Flores agreement.

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After Arbery shooting, black parents are rethinking ‘the talk’ with sons to explain white vigilantes

“I told him, ‘Son, don’t run when you are confronted with a gun. I don’t want to go to your funeral.’ “

Image: Carlton Riddick, right, finds it frustrating that it is necessary to have talks with sons Justin, left, and Josiah about surviving targeted attacks.
Carlton Riddick, right, finds it frustrating that it is necessary to have talks with sons Justin, left, and Josiah about surviving targeted attacks.Courtesy of Carlton RiddickMay 19, 2020, 11:25 AM CDT / Updated May 19, 2020, 11:33 AM CDTBy Curtis Bunn

Before Carlton Riddick left New York for college in 1988, his mother had “the talk” with him, a customary conversation between parents and children about the guidelines of conduct as they embark on life on their own.

Today’s talk is radically different from years past. Black parents are having serious and cautionary exchanges with their children about law enforcement shootings of unarmed African American males and so-called vigilante white men exacting prosecution on their own volition.

These talks have intensified after Ahmaud Arbery, 25, was shot and killed Feb. 23 in Brunswick, Georgia, by two white men who followed and confronted him as he went for a routine jog.

“When my mother had the talk with me, she told me to avoid being considered a criminal by watching whom I would associate with, so I would not be arrested,” recalled Riddick, a graduate of Johnson C. Smith University who is an information technology specialist in Atlanta.

Contrast that with the talk Riddick had with his son Josiah before the latter left for college two years ago.

“I looked him in the eyes and said, ‘Son, the police are not your friends.’ That was the beginning of the talk,” said Riddick, whose younger son, Justin, is now 18..

“I wanted him to fully understand what it means to walk out of the safety of his home into a world that would see him as a suspect just because he was walking down the street. This admonishment also included being cautious and suspicious of those of other cultures, many of whom now seem emboldened to take matters into their own hands.”

The two men arrested in the Arbery shooting, Gregory McMichael, 64, and his son, Travis, 34, were charged with felony murder and aggravated assault, but only after a neighbor’s video of the shooting was released last week — more than two months after the incident.

The case has outraged many across the country and devastated the African American community, which has seen many similar acts by white men considering themselves avengers against unarmed black males for no apparent cause, according to many experts.

Image: Sociologist Dr. Rodney Coates of the University of Miami Ohio said the history of vigilantes hunting down black males goes back to Reconstruction.
Sociologist Dr. Rodney Coates of the University of Miami Ohio said the history of vigilantes hunting down black males goes back to Reconstruction.Courtesy of Rodney Coates

“This is an insidious form of racial profiling,” said Rodney Coates, a sociologist and associate professor at Miami University in Ohio. “It’s part of a system that targets black males, not unlike the period of Reconstruction when gangs of whites would hunt down blacks with the mission of killing them.”

With Arbery’s shooting death, which is similar to the killing of Trayvon Martin, 17, by neighborhood watch guard George Zimmerman in Florida in 2012, black families have been traumatized and many suffer from anxieties because they believe a comparable catastrophe could happen to them, Coates said.

“I have a 21-year-old son who at one time did something he shouldn’t have: He used a fake ID to get into a bar,” Coates said. “I was upset about it. But when I was told that he tried to run, I was frightened. I had this new version of ‘the talk’ with him immediately. I grabbed him and hugged him with tears in my eyes because he was still here. I told him: ‘Son, don’t run when you are confronted with a gun. I don’t want to go to your funeral.’

“There is a sector of whites, police and otherwise, who feel they have a license to question (black males) and, if they feel like it, use deadly force.”

Jeri Byrom, a teacher in Nairobi, Kenya, said while she was excited about her son Adam starting college at Howard University a few years ago, there was concern he would fall victim to a targeted attack.

“I’m terrified that my son might go to prison or get killed just by being black,” Byrom said. “I live in this constant fear. Young freshman do stupid things, and young black men cannot afford to make one mistake. I happened to call him on Halloween during his freshman year. Good thing I did because he and his friend were about to go trick or treating in an affluent area of D.C.

“I freaked out and started yelling: ‘Are you out of your mind?’ I could imagine what could happen to a group of black boys, with or without costumes, going to a white neighborhood. Again, we had ‘the talk’: ‘You can’t do things like that. You are a target. You don’t have to do anything at all, and you can still be shot or arrested or attacked. Please don’t go.’ Thankfully, they didn’t.

“This horrible case in Georgia raised so many emotions and has forced black parents to modify the talk with their sons.”

In Arbery’s case, he paused while jogging and entered a house that was under construction. The McMichaels told police they suspected him of burglarizing a nearby home, although there is no report of any crime in that neighborhood since Jan. 1. The father and son pulled ahead of Arbery in a pickup truck, blocked the street and the son jumped out brandishing a shotgun.

The video shows Arbery trying to wrest the weapon before being shot (off camera) three times and then collapsing to the ground. The FBI is considering charging the McMichaels with a hate crime.

“The attack on us is unceasing, prolific, pervasive, insidious and brutal,” Clifford Benton, a college English professor in New York, said, adding that his conversation with his son, Clifford Jr., 25, “about his ‘situation’ in the United States is born out of my clarity regarding our plight.”

“I have not minced words, and the proof of my truth is evidenced daily,” Benton said “As black men from two different eras, we face the same hostilities from virtually all fronts.”

Liketa Morris of Oakland, California, said her heart sank when she read about the shooting of Arbery. Her son, Tai, a student at DePaul University in Chicago, likes to jog, as well.

“I could not hold back my tears or my fears or my anger,” Morris said. “This young man was (like) my son. Tai runs every day in the streets of Chicago, and if that would have happened to him, there would have been no ends of the earth that could settle me as a parent.”

She said Arbery’s death sadly illuminated the points she regularly makes to her 20-year-old and reinforced after the shooting.

“He will always have a stigma over his head,” Morris said. “We’ve had the conversation about what that looks like for him plenty of times. I’ve had to tell him to be proud of who you are always. I’ve had to talk to him about the police in making sure you’re always showing two hands, so they won’t ‘accidentally’ kill you. I worry a lot for him being out there by himself. When I don’t hear from him for two days, I panic and I’m ready to take a ‘red-eye’ out there because I’m scared.”

Image: Family therapist Dr. Porsha Jones stresses that black parents reinforce positive attributes to their boys when discussing the climate of racial profiling.
Family therapist Dr. Porsha Jones stresses that black parents reinforce positive attributes to their boys when discussing the climate of racial profiling.Courtesy of Porsha Jones

Family therapist Porsha Jones in Atlanta said parents must be mindful of not diminishing their youths’ self-esteem when having this updated version of “the talk.”

“It’s personal for me because I have a black son,” Jones said. “And the one thing about the coronavirus is that I know where he is: home. It’s alleviated a lot of stress for me because he can’t go anywhere.

“Black parents have to implement a talk around new protective factors. But we have to balance the message so that he does not believe he is less than. You must communicate a sense of all love for your child and let him know that he is not broken, that he is equal. Reinforce his attributes and make sure he understands his heritage. This is necessary to reinforce because this is certainly not about him.”

Coates agrees. “We have to let our kids know there is a time to fight and a time not to fight,” he said. “When these (vigilante) cases occur, they must try to defuse, although it goes against their brain and instincts. But it’s not about being a coward. It’s not about backing down. It’s being strategic. It’s about living.”

For Riddick, it is disheartening to have to talk to his sons about potential mistreatment based solely on their race.

“What kind of world do we live in when a parent has to have these types of conversations with their children?” he said. “What pained me the most is here I am a father basically instilling a level of trepidation in my son. All he hears normally from me is that he can be anything he wants to be if he works for it. I had to add a caveat: even in a world that only sees you as a suspect.”

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