Don’t shield children from hearing about natural disasters


TED SIMONS: HURRICANES, EARTHQUAKES, THE POTENTIAL FOR NUCLEAR WAR, THE HEADLINES CAN BE UNSETTLING AT BEST, ESPECIALLY FOR KIDS, SO HOW DO YOU TALK TO CHILDREN ABOUT CURRENT EVENTS. JOINING US NOW IS ERIK FRANCIS OF MAVERIK EDUCATION. WELCOME TO "ARIZONA HORIZON." GOOD TO HAVE YOU HERE.

ERIK FRANCIS: THANK YOU.

TED SIMONS: HOW MUCH DO CURRENT EVENTS IMPACT KIDS?

ERIK FRANCIS: IT DEPENDS ON THE AGE. THE OLDER ONES ARE IMPACTED ‘CAUSE THEY’RE THE ONES WHO ARE SOCIAL MEDIA SAVVY. THE ARE ONLINE. THEY GO ON YAHOO WHERE IT POPS UP FROM THE BREAKING NEWS LIST. THE YOUNGER KIDS HEAR IT FROM THEIR PARENTS. IF THEY TALK ABOUT IT, IT’S BECAUSE THEY HEAR THEIR PARENTS TALKING ABOUT IT, DISCUSSING IT AT THE DINNER TABLE OR BEHIND CLOSED DOORS AND THEY OVER HEAR IT. THE OLDER KIDS GET A GLIMPSE OF IT BECAUSE THEY’RE DOING OTHER THINGS ON THE INTERNET, BUT THAT’S WHERE MOST OF THE EXPOSURE IS WHEN IT COMES TO UNDERSTANDING WHAT’S GOING ON IN THE WORLD AND THE NEWS.

TED SIMONS: AS FAR AS WHAT'S HAPPENING IN THE NEWS, WICH ISSUES CAUSE ANXIETY, FEAR? ARE THEY CONTROVERSIAL ISSUES, CONFEDERATE STATUES, EARTHQUAKES AND HURRICANES? WHEN IT COMES TO KIDS, HOW DO THEY SEE THOSE THINGS?

ERIK FRANCIS: WELL IF YOU THINK ABOUT IT, THEY MIGHT BE A LITTLE DESENSITIZEDTO IT. WE HAVE SEEN SO MANY MOVIES ABOUT THIS. WE’VE HAD SAN ANDREAS, WE HAVE EVEN HAD MOVIES WHERE ALIENS BLOW UP THE WHITE HOUSE. IT'S ONLY WHEN IT'S REAL, WHEN FICTION BECOMES FACT. IF YOU THINK ABOUT 9-11, FOR YEARS WE’VE BEEN WATCHING CITIES GETTING BLOWN UP, THEN WE SAW OUR TWIN TOWERS COME DOWN, FIRST TIME, FANTASY BECAME REALITY. THAT’S WHERE IT’S GOING TO HIT THEM. WHEN IT COMES TO EARTHQUAKES AND HURRICANES, THEY PROBABLY FEEL IT’S DISTANT BECAUSE IT'S NOT IMPACTING THEM PERSONALLY. WE ARE NOT IN A NATURAL HAZARD ZONE FOR HURRICANES, BUT WE COULD HAVE EARTHQUAKES. SO GET EDUCATED ABOUT IT. IT'S INTERESTING BECAUSE SOME STATES, BECAUSE EARTHQUAKES ARE BECOMING MORE RAMPANT, THEY ARE PUTTING EARTHQUAKE EDUCATION INTO THEIR CURRICULUM. TEXAS DID THAT. IT'S ACTUALLY A GREAT OPPORTUNITY FOR KIDS TO ENGAGE IN S.T.E.M. A GREAT QUESTION WOULD BE WHAT CAN YOU DO TO PREDICT, PREVENT, AND PROTECT PEOPLE FROM NATURAL HAZARDS? FINDING OUT WHAT OUR SAFETY MEASURES ARE. WHAT ARE WE DOING TO MAKE SURE IF THAT AN EARTHQUAKE DID HIT PHOENIX OR A HURRICANE OR FLOODS, WHEN WE HAD THE 100 YEAR RAIN, LOOK WHAT HAPPENED. WHERE WERE THE SAFETY PARAMETERS? WHAT WERE THE POLICY AND PROCEDURES PUT IN THERE? IF THERE ISN'T, HOW ABOUT HAVING THE KIDS CREATE IT?

TED SIMONS: SO YOU WANT KIDS TO HAVE EMPATHY, OBVIOUSLY, COMPASSION AND EMPATHY AND THESE SORTS OF THINGS, BUT YOU ALSO WANT TO TAKE A REMOVE FROM IT TO SAY HOW CAN HOUSTON REBUILD? WHAT CAN WE LEARN AS FAR AS HURRICANE PREPARATION, THOSE SORTS OF THINGS, AS OPPOSED TO WATCHING PEOPLE SUFFERING ON TELEVISION AND WRINGING YOUR HANDS?

ERIK FRANCIS: I DON’T THINK IT’S A REMOVAL. I THINK IT'S MORE OF AN ACTIVE ENGAGEMENT. THIS IS A PERFECT OPPORTUNITY FOR SCHOOLS. WE WANT TO DO PROJECT-BASED LEARNING, WE WANT TO DO PROBLEM-BASED LEARNING, WE WANT TO DO SERVICE LEARNING. THIS IS THE PERFECT OPPORTUNITY. WHAT CAN WE DO TO HELP THESE COMMUNITIES? WHAT CAN WE DO TO HELP THESE PEOPLE? WHAT CAN WE DO TO SEE IF THERE IS AN EARLY WARNING SYSTEM THAT WE CAN DEVELOP? THEY HAVE MADE MOVIES ABOUT THAT. MICHAEL CRICHTON WROTE BOOKS ABOUT THAT. THERE IS A GREAT OPPORTUNITY TO HAVE THE KIDS READ FICTION. HOW CAN FICTION BECOME FACT? COULD WHAT MICHAEL CRICHTON WRITES ABOUT IN HIS BOOKS ACTUALLY HAPPEN? WE SHOULD READ MICHAEL CHRICHTON BOOKS IN SCIENCE CLASSES.

TED SIMONS: HOW JUDGMENTAL SHOULD PARENTS, DEALING WITH THEIR KIDS HERE, BE ON CONTROVERSIAL ISSUES? IT’S STATUES, POLICE, BLACK LIVES MATTER, THE WHOLE NINE YARDS. HOW JUDGMENTAL SHOULD YOU BE WITH CHILDREN ON THESE TOUGH ISSUES?

ERIK FRANCIS: THAT'S A DANGEROUS LINE YOU HAVE TO WALK. YOU HAVE YOUR PERSONAL PHILOSOPHY, YOU MIGHT EVEN HAVE FAMILY HISTORY OR EXPERIENCES THAT SHAPE YOUR PHILOSOPHY. YOU HAVE TO BE CAREFUL TALKING TO KIDS. THEY ARE LOOKING AT YOU. YOU ARE THE BIGGEST INFLUENCE IN THEIR LIFE. YOU ARE PROVIDING THEM WITH THEIR PERSPECTIVE UNTIL THEY GET OLDER AND START REALIZING THERE ARE DIFFERENT PERSPECTIVES OUT THERE. K-12 WE WERE SHAPED BY OUR PARENTS AND IDEALS. THEN WE WENT TO COLLEGE AND STARTED TO FORM OUR OWN OPINIONS. YOU REALLY HAVE TO BE CAREFUL ABOUT WHAT YOU SAY, BUT HAVE YOUR KIDS EXPLORE THE ISSUES. THEY ARE ON THE INTERNET ALL THE TIME. THEY HAVE A CURRICULUM RIGHT THERE IN THEIR HANDS: THEIR PHONE. WE HAVE TO TEACH THEM TO USE THE INTERNET WISELY. IN EDUCATION, THEY SAY THAT IF YOU CAN GOOGLE A QUESTION, IT'S A BAD QUESTION. NO, IT'S NOT. GOOGLE IS A FACT OF LIFE. WE NEED TO TEACH KIDS ABOUT CREDIBLE SOURCES. HOW CAN WE DETERMINE WHETHER THIS IS A CREDIBLE SOURCE OR SOMEONE WHO KNEW HOW TO CREATE A WEB PAGE AND PUT THEIR OWN OPINIONS AND THOUGHTS ON THERE? THAT'S NOT A CREDIBLE SOURCE.

TED SIMONS: ONE LAST QUESTION ABOUT THE INTERNET, ANGRY CONVERSATIONS ONLINE. HOW DO YOU TEACH KIDS PEOPLE ARE NOT SUPPOSED TO SPEAK TO EACH OTHER LIKE THAT?

ERIK FRANCIS: THAT'S A PROBLEM WITH MILLENNIALS, AND NOT JUST EVEN YOUNG KIDS. IT'S ABOUT RESPECT. IT'S ABOUT TEACHING THEM TO SAY THE POWER OF WORDS, ESPECIALLY ONLINE, THAT LASTS FOREVER. YOU CAN LOOK THAT UP, AND THAT WILL BE THERE.

TED SIMONS: YES, THE INTERNET IS FOREVER. THANK YOU FOR BEING HERE. APPRECIATE IT. THURSDAY ON "ARIZONA HORIZON," AN ASTEROID-HUNTING SPACECRAFT DESIGNED IN PART AT A-S-U MAKES A FLY-BY OF EARTH. AND A FESTIVAL IN TEMPE LOOKS AT THE FUTURE OF TECHNOLOGY. THOSE STORIES THURSDAY, RIGHT HERE ON "ARIZONA HORIZON." THAT IS IT FOR NOW. I'M TED SIMONS. THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR JOINING US. YOU HAVE A GREAT EVENING.

The best way to educate students in current events and natural disasters, is to involve them in perfecting early warning systems within their schools, according to Erik Francis, owner of Maverick Education.

Rather than shield students from the harsh realities of natural disasters, Texas schools have now implemented “earthquake education.” Francis believes that keeping children knowledgeable about the possibilities is the best way to predict, prevent and protect them from tragedy.

Because of the enormous amounts of movies and books involving natural disasters, many children have become desensitized to the idea that these disasters are possible. According to Francis, fantasy becomes reality for children when they hear their parents talking about current events. Francis says adults should encourage children to explore these issues using the internet wisely and by teaching them to identify credible sources.

In response to the issue of cyber bullying,  Francis says we should encourage students to be cautious with what they engage in on the internet. “The power of words, especially when it’s online, that lasts forever.”

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In this segment:

Erik Francis: Owner, Maverick Education LLC

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