When talking to kids about the Israel-Hamas war, lead with empathy

October 25, 2023—When approached by children with questions about the Israel-Hamas war, parents and teachers should center conversations on empathy, rather than politics, says Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health’s Claude Bruderlein.

Bruderlein, adjunct lecturer on global health and a senior researcher at the Harvard Humanitarian Initiative, was among the experts quoted in an October 20 Boston Globe article about how to appropriately speak to children about the war.

“The first, more sensitive step is really to take a stand that everybody has a right to life and dignity, regardless of their nationality, regardless of their religion, regardless of their gender and age,” Bruderlein told The Globe.

He added that schools in particular must remain safe, inclusive spaces where young students can ask questions and ask for help without politics getting in the way. To do so, adults must avoid relying on categories like race, nationality, and religion, which can become divisive.

“It’s very important for parents and students and teachers to promptly dissociate themselves from these categorizations, because they’re not linked to empathy, they are linked to a politicization of empathy,” said Bruderlein.

Read The Boston Globe article: How should parents and teachers talk to kids about the Israel-Hamas war? Here’s what some experts recommend.