How to Talk to Students About Charlottesville and Terrorism

Use the resources below to answer students' questions about the events in Charlottesville or to begin a dialogue about prejudice, violence and terrorism.

Updated: June 9, 2019
Talking to Students About Terrorism

On August 12, a group of "alt-right" white nationalists gathered in Charlottesville, Virginia for a "Unite the Right" rally. After numerous clashes between protesters and counter-protesters, the event culminated in a deadly terrorist attack: 20-year-old white nationalist James Fields Jr. drove a car into a crowd of counter-protesters, injuring 19 and killing 32-year-old Heather Heyer.

The tragic events in Charlottesville (and numerous others around the world) left many in the United States shaken, and teachers heading back to school face the daunting challenge of addressing terrorism, violence, bigotry and prejudice with their students. Use the resources here to answer questions, begin productive conversations and encourage empathy in your classroom.

Many Ways to Resolve Conflict

Introduce students to a range of conflict-resolution techniques, and help them identify situations in which they should be used.

Prejudice: Balanced or Biased?

Encourage students to use their critical thinking skills to consider what constitutes prejudice or bias. Grades 5-8

White Terrorist Groups in the U.S.

This article outlines the history of the Ku Klux Klan and other white nationalist groups in the United States, including a sampling of violent attacks against African-Americans since the conclusion of the Civil War.

Helping Kids Cope in a Time of Crisis and Fear

This resource for both teachers and parents breaks down how to explain horrific events to children on an age-by-age basis. Grades PreK-12

How to Talk to Children About Stereotypes

It's amazing how children absorb societal stereotypes, even if we avoid them at home. Children are aware of racial differences by the time they're preschoolers, and by the age of 12, children have developed an image of most racial or ethnic groups in America. Only by actively challenging stereotyping can we help our children overcome the lessons they may inadvertently learn from friends, television, and even textbooks. Here are ideas to begin a discussion with children 10 and under.

Killing With Words

Using this resource, students will learn how damaging stereotypes can be, and then explore the concept further with a brainstorming activity. Grades 2-5

Thinking About Prejudice

In this critical thinking activity, students are challenged to decide what to do in situations involving prejudice. Grades 5-8


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