Leading psychiatrists have advised parents not to hide the news of Monday’s terror attack at Manchester Arena from their children.
The Royal College of Psychiatrists said it is best to be honest with youngsters about the incident – taking into consideration the “age and sensitivity” of the child.
They should also reassure children of the rarity of such attacks.
Dr Bernadka Dubicka, chairwoman-elect of the child and adolescent psychiatry faculty at the Royal College of Psychiatrists, said: “Such terrible events instil fear and sadness within all of us.”
She added: “It is normal to feel upset after Monday night’s tragic attack.
“We would not advise hiding your child from what may be on the news or social media. They will inevitably learn about it from their friends, so it’s best to be honest with them about what has happened.
“While taking into consideration the age and sensitivity of your child, let them lead the conversation.
“Respond to their questions or concerns, and help them to understand that although what has happened is awful, these events are extremely rare.
“Do not try to force conversations with your child about this, but be there for them should they wish to talk.
“Most children and young people will not show any long-term effects from these events.
“However, a small proportion, particularly those who have been more directly affected, may show symptoms of stress and trauma. For example, they may have problems sleeping, concentrating or may be more anxious.
“If parents are worried, they should contact their GP in the first instance.”
Consultant child and adolescent psychiatrist Dr Andrea Danese, who is also clinical senior lecturer at King’s College London, said: “It is difficult to say if this attack will hit youngsters worse because it was an attack on their peers.
“I imagine it will be very confusing and distressing for many young people seeing how these horrific attacks now have reached activities that are and should remain positive, enjoyable, and energising.”