People in Paris show support to the newspaper

How to explain the tragedy in Paris to kids

I’d like to take a minute to explain why — and how — News-O-Matic made the choice today to cover the recent event in Paris, France. We did not cover the initial attack on the Charlie Hebdo in Wednesday’s edition. At the time, the news was focused on the killers and the ensuing manhunt. “It’s scary,” our child psychologist, Dr. Ohr, said. But what followed was too important to ignore — the outpouring of support for free speech.

As the first daily newspaper for kids, we recognize that it is part of our mission to instill a value of the press to young readers. This horrendous tragedy provides a chance for students to learn about the need for free speech, as well as the global community that came together to support it.  

More importantly, our audience deserves the opportunity to understand what’s going on. After all, 9-year-old Thelma wrote this note in our News Room: “Hey Russ. Did you hear what happened in Paris yesterday? It almost made me cry when I heard it.”

Ultimately, we decided to focus not on the attack itself but on the unifying message that the press cannot and will not be intimidated. It’s why our article began with the concept of a free press and ended with the fact that journalists will print a million copies of the next edition of Charlie Hebdo — on time.

And what did Dr. Ohr say about our final copy (see below)? “It’s developmentally appropriate and sensitive to the emotional reactions of children.”

Upset by the news? Read Dr. Ohr’s post on how to deal with upsetting news here.

The World Stands with France

Most people in the world have freedom of speech. That is the right to express opinions and ideas freely. People often use that freedom by writing newspapers, magazines, or blogs. However, their words and images may sometimes upset others.

On Wednesday, gunmen attacked people who worked for a French magazine called Charlie Hebdo. They killed 10 workers at the office in Paris, France. They also killed two police officers. The attackers were angry that the magazine had printed cartoons of the Muslim Prophet Mohammed. It is against the rule of the Islam religion to show his image.

Across the planet, millions of people showed their support for the magazine. Many held pens and pencils in the air to represent that a free press is essential. Others carried signs that said “Je suis Charlie.” That means “I am Charlie” in French, a symbol that they stand by the magazine.

Gathering in Nice, France, after the attacks

Gathering in Nice, France, after the attacks

World leaders also showed their support. The shooting was a “cowardly and evil attack,” said U.S. President Barack Obama. “These terrorists fear freedom of speech and freedom of the press,” he added.

Muslim leaders wanted people to know that the killers do not represent their religion. “This is not Islam,” said Arif Khan in England. “This was an evil act, and it insults Islam and its teachings.”

Journalists promised not to let the attack scare them. They are working to print a million copies of the next edition of Charlie Hebdo on Wednesday.

By Russell Kahn

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Image Credits: JEFF PACHOUD - AFP - GETTY IMAGES (top) - Valery Hache-AFP-Getty Images (bottom)
  • Story Twentyfour

    dont fill the minds with fear