10 Tips on Discussing a Screwed Up World with Kids

Do you have children? How do you talk to them when something like a mass shooting happens? What about a robbery in your neighborhood? Do you talk about nuclear weapons? If you are like most parents, you don’t know where to start. Here’s 10 tips that you can use to talk to your kids about our screwed up world:

Young Kids – Ages 2 to 6

Parents Are in Charge – We control the “information flow” which means we can restrict what information they have access to. No mobile phones, no tablets, no TV news or conversations in the house or others homes on topics to intense for young kids. We ask questions before we send them to others homes and tell them our requirements.

Don’t Expose Them – Don’t watch adult-themed shows until they are in bed.

Don’t Bring it Up – It’s also recommended that you don’t even bring it up…unless, for some reason, they bring it up to you. If you do have to talk to them about it, keep it simple.

Tell Them You are Safe – If you do have to address a situation like this, make sure that you tell your kids that they are safe. Give them a hug and assure them.

Older Children – Age 7 to 12

Parents Are in Charge – We control the “information flow”. Don’t give me a BS excuse “I already gave my 11 year old a mobile phone and he has a TV in his bedroom. Stop the madness and start parenting.

Talk to Them if They Talk to You – For older kids, you should talk to them about these incidents, but only if they know about the event. Tell them that you would love to talk about it with them.

Listen – Talking it out is only one part of this. You also have to be a good listener. Ask them questions, too, such as what they heard, how they know about the incident, and how they feel about it.

Be Honest – When dealing with tweens, you should make sure that the truth comes from you, not from their friends nor the television or internet. You don’t have to go into great detail, and you should explain it in a way they will understand, i.e. explaining that the mass shooter/terrorist/predator etc likely is mentally ill.

Discuss the Media – It’s likely that kids this age will get information from the media, but make sure they know that the media likes to sensationalize things to get people’s attention.


Assume They Know – Teens likely know that an event has happened, but don’t assume that they have the whole story. They often get their news from friends or social media, and that information is often incomplete.

Engage Them in Conversation – Talking it out can help teens come to terms with these incidents.  

Give Them Hope – Finally, give your teenager hope that things will be alright. A lot of teens are focused on the dark side of things, so make sure to bring in a bright light.

No matter their age, engage their schools administration. Most schools have systems in place to deal with and discuss tragic events based on the age and grades of the students. Often, parents will feel better that their schools have a good handle on these discussions. But it’s also up to the parents to put it out there, to let the schools know what the parents expect.

Robert Siciliano personal security and identity theft expert and speaker is the author of Identity Theft Privacy: Security Protection and Fraud Prevention: Your Guide to Protecting Yourself from Identity Theft and Computer Fraud. See him knock’em dead in this Security Awareness Training video.

Desperate Teens Turning to Prostitution and Drug Dealing to Survive

Teenagers across the country are falling into drug dealing, theft, and prostitution in order to eat. This, according to a recent study, which found that poverty has been increasing throughout the U.S.

10DResearchers at the Urban Institute in Washington, D.C. have taken a close look at the current Census data, and this group estimates that more than 6.8 million Americans between the ages of 10 and 17 struggle to eat, including almost three million who currently have “very low food security.”

During this study, 20 different focus groups of teens were studied in 10 separate communities across the country. In eight out of the 10 communities, the study participants claimed that pre-teens and teens often participated in theft and drug dealing to make ends meet. In all 10 communities, teens claimed that they participated in prostitution. Additionally, in a couple of communities, teens intentionally committed petty crimes and went to jail in order to get a meal.

The stigma that surrounds hunger and poverty often stops many teens from reaching out for help. It’s true that some rely on friends, family, neighbors, or teachers, but too many face criminal acts to survive.

In the communities with the highest rates of poverty, these teens are often desperate and not only steal food for themselves, but also for their family. Teens in all of the studied communities, and in 13 out of the 20 focus groups, mentioned that several teens are “selling their body” or having “sex for money.” Mostly girls, the teens who are doing this are feeling pressed to the extreme to get the basic resources for their basic needs.

Many instances of having sex for money came in the form of girls regularly seeing a man, generally one who was much older, in exchange for food and other items. This, in turn, has opened these teens up to forms of sexual exploitation, with both men and boys harassing girls in the neighborhood. This includes everything from catcalls to stalking. Other girls gave sexual favors for cash or even stripped to make money to get food, and these acts took place in locations including flea markets and abandoned homes.

Looking at a case in Chicago, an 11-year-old girl dropped out of school to make money for her family in the sex industry. A group of boys in LA confirmed that the same thing happens there, and even claim that girls in middle school are sharing flyers in public to advertise their offerings.

Having food insecurity has had a significant effect on these teens, as they are at an extremely important stage in their physical and mental development. For those who do not have enough to eat, it undermines their emotional and physical growth, academic achievement, job performance, and stamina. This gets even worse when you look at the quality of the food that is available to them.

All of these actions including sex work, shoplifting, and drug dealing, severely affect the future of these teens. They risk dropping out of school, arrest, bodily harm, incarceration, and criminal records that might inhibit their future opportunities for employment.

There are a few solutions that could address this crisis, including offering more food from federal programs and more job opportunities for these teens. Counseling and informing the teens could also have a positive impact.

In the long run, making an investment in ending poverty is the only solution. This means that expanding housing assistance, creating more jobs, improving the access to existing jobs, and offering more cash assistance is necessary. To do this, however, will require some daring steps to make a big difference.

Robert Siciliano personal security and identity theft expert and speaker is the author of 99 Things You Wish You Knew Before Your Identity Was Stolen. See him knock’em dead in this identity theft prevention video.