As Putin’s attack on Ukraine continues to intensify, many people are wondering how to explain the situation to children. The BBC has visited a school in Norfolk to find out how they are talking to pupils about the conflict – and to hear from pupils themselves, many of who have families in countries such as Poland and Latvia.
‘They’ve heard a lot of misinformation’
Teacher Chloe Regester is speaking to pupils aged eight and nine at Howard Junior School in King’s Lynn about the unfolding situation in Ukraine.
She says the children “have shown a sense of worry” about the conflict.
“They’ve heard a lot of misinformation,” she says.
“We are helping them to understand what is fake news and what is real news.”
Ms Regester says it is important to have “open discussions” with the children about what is going on in the world.
“If there was a great moon landing we would be discussing it in class,” she says.
“We need to educate them on what is happening in the world currently.
“We don’t want our children to be anxious or worried, we want them to feel like they can talk to us about anything.”
Ms Regester says the school is using content from CBBC Newsround to explain the situation to pupils.
“It gives us age-appropriate content for the children and we can trust it’s all accurate,” she says.
‘I just want peace’
Alisha’s parents were born in Latvia and were raised speaking Russian, which she also speaks.
She says she feels “slightly worried” about the conflict.
“I’ve heard some people have been terribly bullied for being Russian and just speaking Russian as a second language,” she says.
“I think it’s terrible because it’s not Russian people doing it, it’s Putin making the choices.
“I just don’t want war or anyone being bullied.
“I just want peace.”
The 11-year-old says her mother watches a lot of news and is keeping her updated about what is happening.
But she says talking about it at school has “helped me get a lot more understanding of the situation”.
“I hope the situation can be solved so everything will be fine again,” she says.
‘I’m worried for my family’
Weronika’s mother is from Latvia and her father is from Poland.
“I’m worried for my family in Latvia,” she says.
“They’ve been saying they might come to this country if Russia gets closer.
“They’ve already got stuff packed.
“They’ve got their car full of fuel and everything so they’re ready in case anything bad happens.”
Weronika says she does not like to talk about the situation.
“It’s very bad,” she says.
“I try to stay away from it.”
‘We don’t want to overload them’
Assistant head teacher Ashley Kirwan says the school is trying to “reassure” pupils by giving them “the right information”.
“We don’t want to overload them because they’re young,” he says
“We want to reassure them that they don’t need to worry, that they can trust us to give them the correct information and give them space to ask questions.”
Mr Kirwan says he wants to make sure the children are “aware of what’s happening in the world”.
Out of the 200 pupils at the school, 80 are from Eastern European backgrounds, which makes the current situation even more important to discuss.
“I do get a sense that the children are worried and I feel it does come from things they hear and see online,” he says.
“We want to try and quash those worries with the truth.”
Courtesy of BBC News: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-norfolk-60624154