How To Talk With Your Kids About Police Involved Shootings

I do not always write about deep topics, but this country is in deep trouble. Why? We have different groups of people, and the only thing they agree on is that the other group is to blame. I say this based on the many news reports, blogs and social media posts on police-involved shootings.

Let me pause here and say we are all free to express our viewpoints. Unless it threatens the safety and well-being of others, i.e. shouting “fire” in a theater, your speech is protected by the Constitution. The problem, I believe, is that people tend to jump to conclusions, leave out the facts or both. This is especially true in the period immediately following a police-involved shooting. If and when there are developments in the case, that information may not be included and for a number of reasons including ignorance and lack of objectivity. Either way, we end up with the aforementioned groups of people that agree to disagree.

If a white police officer shoots a black man, some people immediately think the white officer is a racist killer operating in an oppressive society where it’s open season on black people. They’ll take to news outlets, websites, and social media pages to share their opinions, sometimes with little if any facts other than a headline or video that may not even be shown in its entirety.

Now, I’m not saying there are not racist police officers. There are racist people throughout society, but that does not make all police officers bad, nor does it mean that all black people (or any people) are bad and “got what they deserved.” That, sadly, is the response I’ve seen from some people on the other side of the story who call people “thugs” and comment on how if they were not lawbreakers they would not have been in a situation with police. How did they immediately know the person on the other end of a police-involved shooting broke the law(s)? Were you there? Or did their information come from a developing news report, blog or social media post?

Our children are growing up and fast. They will hear things on the television, in the classroom and grocery store check-out. We cannot monitor everything, but we need to be prepared and take the time to explain that sad and bad things happen. We should also stress that not all people involved in that incident are the same way and will do the same thing to your child if given the opportunity.

I mentioned hearing things in the grocery store check-out. I’ve seen law enforcement officers in the same aisle as people with unruly children. At least one time I saw a woman tell her son to, “Act right or that policeman is going to get you!”

This is never a good move. It’s teaching a child that law enforcement officers are out to “get” people. If you are with your child and you witness something similar, tell him or her how that was not right. Meanwhile, instruct your child to be respectful of law enforcement officers and anyone who looks the same as the person with questionable remarks.

If we do not fix this, and fast, we will not recover. This nation has made significant gains and it will all come crashing down, leaving us nothing more than a footnote in a history book. Speaking of books, it’s always a good move to see what the Holy Bible says about life and how to live. The following is but one example:

“Jesus said, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets” (Matthew 22:37-40)

Chris Woodward

Assistant Editor, One Million Dads
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