Concerns over the spread of the Ebola virus in the United States were heightened today with the news of a second Ebola-infected health worker. To many people, especially children, this is scary news.
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends limiting young children’s exposure to news stories about Ebola. This way, parents and guardians can vet sources and decide what information they want to share based on their child’s level of understanding. If your child is concerned, remind them:
- They are safe.
- Our health care system is among the best in the world for taking care of sick people.
- Ebola is rare and does not exist everywhere.
- Doctors and scientists who know a lot about Ebola are working hard to find ways to prevent or cure this illness.
For up-to-date information and additional parent tips, visit:
- AAP: Ebola: What Parents Need to Know
- KidsHealth.org (Appropriate for middle schooler): Ebola
- CDC Communication Resources: Ebola Virus Disease
- Washington Post: 5 tips for talking to your kids about Ebola
- Huffington Post: Ebola 101: Managing Our Children’s Fears
- Independent digital media project launched by a team of journalists and technologists, working to improve the state of information around a global crisis: EbolaDeeply.org
Make it a teachable moment. In her article, 5 tips for talking to your kids about Ebola, Julianna W. Miner, adjunct professor of Global and Community Health at George Mason University, suggests “This conversation can be an opportunity to talk about so many important issues with your kids. Like great topics related to health and medicine (how diseases are spread and how they can be stopped); science and biology (the difference between viruses and bacteria); geography and economics (Africa and how poverty and health intersect).
Dig deeper and consider Ebola from both local and global perspectives: How can we teach our children to respond to this situation with compassion and empathy? In what ways has Ebola already impacted members of our local community (see Hampshire Gazette: Tragedy of Ebola hits home in Hampshire County)? As a member of a global community, do we have an obligation (if any) to help? What can we do to help and educate others?