Elementary Students Shown 9/11 Imagery

All of the kids at Broadus Wood Elementary were shown a slideshow of the September 11th attacks last week, Brandon Shulleeta writes in the Progress, and some parents aren’t happy that they weren’t notified in advance. It included photos of airplanes hitting the Twin Towers—photos that most television networks stopped broadcasting within a couple of weeks of the attacks—and was shown to children as young as five years old. Principal Kendra King said in a statement (she declined to be interviewed) that she’d notify parents in the future, but if she apologized, that didn’t make it into the Progress.

This is what the kids were shown:

22 thoughts on “Elementary Students Shown 9/11 Imagery”

  1. I think this slide show is well done and that it is important that children should learn about this recent history.

  2. I side with some parents on this one: I don’t think every five-year-old ought to see images of airplanes exploding as they crash into buildings. I understanding teaching history, but there’s a level of information and detail that is appropriate for children of different ages. We teach kids about World War II, but we don’t show them graphic photographs of people being shot. I would not allow my five-year-old (not that I have one) to see a movie that fictionalized this sort of imagery—I definitely wouldn’t allow him to see real photos of that.

  3. I have a five year old. If I found out that she was shown this at school without my having had a chance ahead of time to talk to her about it (at the very least, or perhaps to veto it), I would be furious. If you’re going to show unusually powerful images to small children, you let the parents know first.

    Can I point out that the Albemarle County School System DID alert parents to the planned viewing of President Obama’s message to school kids a couple years ago and DID give parents the option to opt out of that, as a kowtow to Obama-haters?

  4. But the perky little fairy tale in radio shack soundtrack completely neutralizes any negativity, right? No? Oh well.

    Still, could you imagine this little vignette set to Carl Orff’s Carmina Burana – Fortuna Imperatrix Mundi?

  5. I belong to the school of thought where you are very available to talk about school with your kids and you would ask young children on Sept. 11 every year if they had talked about the attack at school.

    As the parent of young adults, this discussion actually seems a little strange. I once had an elementary school child get off the school bus on Sept. 11 to ask me if we had heard yet about a relative who worked in the WTC(we learned the next day that he had survived).On 9/11/01 AC kids watched the news at school for part of their day and I don’t recall parents complaining at all.
    I hope the current elementary school children never once have to come home to their parents on such a day. I truly think they will be ok seeing this slide show, though I do agree that it is more age appropriate to teach such history in 3rd to 5th grade.

  6. Of course, I can’t even award any points for historical education–no references to Pennsylvania and just one image of the Pentagon (with a flag, no less).

  7. I am with Gail, stv and W52. The slideshow is tame. More reassuring that all is well than traumatic, the slides do not show the personal effects what transpired.

    Waldo, do you truly believe that WWII pictures of executions/shootings deliver the same amount of trauma as this glossy slideshow? C’mon now! ;-)

    It would be difficult to keep knowledge of 9/11 from five year olds. They are going to find out about the event. So, what is the solution? What do we say?

    And risks run both ways. Are children at more risk by taming down events/dangers they face — keeping them in happy ignorance. Hasn’t this case been made with sex ed for children as well?

    Finally, there will be skepticism that the parents are politically/ideologically offended by the slideshow, rather than experiencing the true effects of psychological trauma in their children. Whether fair or not, some will question whether these parents simply see 9/11 as the understandable result of American sins and imperialism. After all, this is occurring in the context of a university town — not Mayberry.

    Whatever the case, parents should be able to opt out of presentations they see as politically incorrect OR traumatic for their children.

    Like Ms. King, I interpreted the slide show as non-traumatic and safe, so the strong anger directed at her surprises me. Ms. King is probably experiencing more sleepless nights (and shock) than anyone.

  8. Nothing like traumatizing young children, what a genius this Principal is. I don’t think people need to be looking at those images but on rare occasion. Too traumatic of an event for us to get away from emotionally. People use these images too often to feed our need for fear, sensationalism and nurture our societies Neurosis.

  9. I like Cecil’s contrast- when it comes to a propaganda video that benefits the Conservatives – no family warning. But an address by the President of our nation- Oh, everyone absolutely has to have the opportunity to opt out- otherwise they might be corrupted to socialism.

    That said- The only difference between that video and a lot of the crap kids watch in the movies, or on Cable TV, is that the photos in that video actually happened. Violence is violence- whether it’s a video game, Cable Tv or Movie Fiction, or Documentary. It’s nothing that should be taken lightly. If you allow any one of those you have to allow all of it.

    I think the photos and news footage of the 9/11 attacks is something that should be taught in schools- every September.

    When I was a 5 year old – Well that was the age one started Kindergarten. I’ll agree that’s much too young to be dealing with the traumatic events in U.S. History. And I will agree with those that suggested 3rd grade and older is a more appropriate time.

    And that’s my 2 cents.

  10. I’m not sure I’ve heard or seen anyone arguing in favor of “happy ignorance.” What I’ve heard is parents who think it would be appropriate, to say the least, to have advance notice of a plan to show emotionally powerful images of a fiery, violent attack on U.S. landmarks to five year olds. Parents who would like advance notice are not necessarily parents who prefer “happy ignorance.”

    As I ponder this issue some more, I’m unable to think of any other set of similarly powerful photographic images from American history that are shown to kindergartners, first-graders, second-graders as a regular part of their learning experience. There are many dates on the calendar that mark the anniversary of an important, tragic event in American history–April 4th, November 22nd, April 14th, January 28th, December 7th, April 19th…are kindergartners usually shown images that convey the scope of the violence and the tragedy? I’m thinking and thinking, and I keep coming up with “no.”

  11. I usually err on the side of supporting the teachers and the schools, but I think the principal made a serious lapse in judgment on this one. My son is almost 5, and will be a 5 year old kindergarten student next fall on the 10th anniversary of 9/11. I would be livid if he was shown this slide show–all the psychologists I have seen reference discussing tragedies with kids, and all the teaching guides about 9/11 I have seen have actively discouraged showing kids photos and videos of the impact.

    Young children can’t always distinguish between fact and fiction, and don’t understand that the video is from 10 years ago, not right now. They certainly don’t need to see the footage at 5 years old.

  12. If the DP article was accurate, the school’s principal refused to speak with the reporter.

    Shouldn’t a public school principal answer reasonable questions from a reasonable reporter?

  13. Waldo, do you truly believe that WWII pictures of executions/shootings deliver the same amount of trauma as this glossy slideshow? C’mon now! ;-)

    Well, yes. That’s why I said so.

  14. Didnt any of you watch “Red Asphalt” as a young tyke? Or how about the slides of random bikers’ syphilitic junk in “health” class. In fact I can remember only once having to get parental permission to watch something and that was “Night and Fog”, the french documentary on the Holocaust – which makes the video above look like the Teletubbies. Kids are way more durable and flexible than you think.

    As a parent, I am more worried about the editorial control the state of Texas has over the content of the textbooks nationwide than any measly slide show. *shudder*

  15. I agree about the textbooks, but still, a heads-up to parents is common courtesy. No one warned my parents about the fire safety movie we watched when I was in first grade that showed a woman whose hair caught fire as a consequence of smoking while enveloping her head in a cloud of aquanet. The film also featured a child who was severely burned after crawling under a car and lighting a match. Some kids laughed and recognized the hairspray scene as fake. I was completely traumatized.

    The point is, some kids are more sensitive than others. Some might see that montage of 9/11 footage as a series of distant images and others might start to obsess about the suffering that occurred “behind” the image on the screen. Since parents know best how their children are likely to react, they should have been notified.

  16. [quote]That said- The only difference between that video and a lot of the crap kids watch in the movies, or on Cable TV, is that the photos in that video actually happened. Violence is violence- whether it’s a video game, Cable Tv or Movie Fiction, or Documentary. It’s nothing that should be taken lightly. If you allow any one of those you have to allow all of it.[/quote]

    Exactly. My son is only 4, but we strive to not let him see any violence. Unless America’s Funnest Home Videos and Ninja Warrior count.

    I would be one of the livid parents if my son was shown this without my knowledge. If for the very least, I can be prepared for any aftermath.

  17. To my knowledge, my three school-age children have never seen a video or print image of the events of 9/11. Why? Because my husband, their father, goes to work every week and flies on airplanes exactly like those in the video. Our family has processed the significance of 9/11 and the danger of daddy’s job in our own way. A video would not be necessary.

  18. Gotta love the way they smack the Flag and the Cross up there. Keeps it all very simple to understand.

    Wait, whut? I thought the public schools were hives of librul indoctrination? I haz confused.

    While I agree with Yo that the Texas School Board represents a larger threat, it’s a difference of degree, not kind and this is inappropriate for exactly that reason – it’s indoctrination and agit-prop – think Riefenstahl. Cecil is quite right to point out the contrast between the handling of Obama’s address and this injection of the cross into the classroom.

    I’m not sure when Yo saw Night in Fog – a fantastic movie – but generally that’s shown to High School kids, not fifth graders. Adolescent brains – addled as they are – are, unlike those of fifth graders, capable of critical thought leading to skepticism, irony and analysis. I’m less concerned with the scary violence than with the messaging.

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