Kids Chant 'Ebola' in Attack on Little Boys on Playground

Be VERY careful what you say around your kids. Most of us already know this golden rule, but a sad reminder of it came this week when we learned that two middle school boys from the Bronx were attacked and called "Ebola" by their classmates because they had recently returned to the United States from Senegal. The boys, who are brothers, were reportedly pushed and shoved and called names. They said the other kids didn't even bother asking them their real names and just kept calling them "Ebola." Instead of blaming these "bullies" for their actions, we should probably ask ourselves, as parents, if we're creating monsters because of the things we say and don't say -- and the misinformation some of us are allowing ourselves to spread.

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The bottom line is that there is only one way these young kids heard about Ebola -- through their parents or other adults and/or by listening to the insanely sensationalized way it is being covered by the media. Rather than talk strictly about the virus and facts and how people can protect themselves, news outlets know the best way to generate clicks/views is to play on our emotions. So we instead focus on the doctors and nurses who had the nerve to go bowling, ride subways, plan their own weddings, fly on airplanes, etc.

We debate whether potential victims should be placed in quarantine and feel compelled to engage in senseless arguments. But nothing we say or think is going to change the fact that a few people have contracted a deadly virus and that they are SUFFERING and deserve compassion and not to be treated like outcasts.

Rest assured the hysteria is trickling down to our children.

When they see adults -- whom they presume are more logical than they are -- get crazy and emotional over the prospect of contracting Ebola, how else are they going to feel but totally scared? And, as many of us know, most 13- and 14-year-old boys aren't going to sit down and express their feelings. They're going to let them out in other ways -- which includes, for some of them, fighting and taking out their aggression on others.

More from The Stir: 8 Facts About Ebola That Kids Need to Hear

The best thing we can do as parents is give our children straight-up facts about Ebola. If they are old enough to understand, tell them exactly how many people have the virus and how minimal the risk is to them. They should know how the virus is actually spread so that they don't make the mistake of believing they can catch it from a friend or from someone who comes from another country. If you feel your child is sensitive or too young to comprehend facts, simply turn off the news or don't speak about Ebola in their presence.

There's no excuse for children to be taking out their confusion or fears on their peers, and it's up to us to make sure it doesn't happen.

How are you speaking to your children about Ebola?

 

Image © iStock.com/hjalmeida

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