Thursday, September 11, 2008

9/11 2008: Episode 8: WYNC asks: How do you talk to kids?

“Seven years later, how do you talk to your kids about the 9/11 attacks?”
WNYC is the public television station of New York City. If any media concern has the authority to put the question before the general public, it would be this station.

When I turned on WNYC, the BBC was reporting from Kabul. Apparently there is news today of conflict between Afghanistan and Pakistan.

Yet soon it wrapped, and the radio cut to WNYC broadcasting the events live from Ground Zero.

At 9:59 AM Eastern Time, all fell silent. A bell was rung. Brian Lehrer is telling me of seeing and hearing the disaster, from six blocks away.

After the moment of silence, he reminded all of the four most important times:

• 8:46 - the first plane’s impact
• 9:03 - the second plane’s impact
• 9:59 - collapse of the first tower
• 10:28 - collapse of the second tower

In the ongoing discussion, some people cannot help to burst into memories. The reporter acknowledged that time is moving on, and that children born now do not understand or remember what happened.

“There is only so much to actively perpetuate that memory.” — Arun Venugopal

Dr. Michael Cohen then addressed the issues of children exposed to the disaster, and how they respond to images versus how .

• Kids who watched it on television are impacted just as much as being there.
• Find out why they are asking.
• Ask questions of them before answering, “What did you see? What did you learn already?”

212-433-WNYC (9692)

So I called in. I am presently on hold waiting to ask my question.

At 7:06 AM Pacific, 10:06 AM Eastern, United Airlines Flight 93 went down in a Pennsylvania field.

Meanwhile, back in the real timestream, Dane, a clinical psychologist from the Bronx, asked if there were any ethnic differences. Dr. Cohen pointed out that the major difference in reactions from Hispanics was due to the plane crash in Rockaway later that year.

One point being emphasized is that death should not be the end of the story. To answer “What happened to me,” should start long before and long after the traumatic event itself. For children, to say “The planes hit the building. People died,” may be accurate, yet it is traumatizing. Make sure to emphasize the safety and security restored and new programs established since.

Colleen in Tewksbury, New Jersey called in. She doesn’t want to make her daughters, one of which was diagnosed with an anxiety disorder, to be afraid of New York City. The Doctor emphasized preparing the children mentally, and likened it to tornado preparedness. It is a real danger, but the risk can be put in context.

By 7:20 AM (10:20 AM), they moved from the interview to talk on-the-scene about the families filing down into the “Pit.” They are throwing flowers into the ring, and then they file on up and out. The foundation of the Freedom Tower is beginning to be built though there seem to be a number of holdups.

Historically, I had gotten a wake-up call from my girlfriend Kathy Plamback. A few time zones ahead of me, like my friend Eli, she was already up and had seen the news. She called me and asked if any of my relatives worked in the Towers. She was talking to me on the phone when the towers collapsed.

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