Fears about violent crime have ripple effects through families, schools and churches.
While Christian parents and grandparents themselves struggle to adjust to rapidly increasing crime rates, they and others, including church leaders, are intensely concerned about the negative physical, mental, emotional and spiritual impact heightened crime is having on young children.
Little ones are feeling unsafe in their homes, schools, cars, churches and neighborhoods.
Children lack mature understanding, and witnessing or hearing about escalating violence makes them feel vulnerable, afraid and often unprotected.
Christian parents and pastors are needed now more than ever to help vulnerable, frightened children feel safe and to instill God’s secure promises into their young hearts.
What can Christian families do to help young children feel safe, secure and protected?
Here are some practical suggestions:
- Teach children the promises of God. Violence, death, pain and suffering are real, but God is near to us, He will not leave us, and He promises to restore us.
The violence we see is ultimately temporary, and the peace of God will reign forever.
- Keep young children away from media violence, including television news reports, violent movies, video games, etc.
Be aware of friends and family members who may allow exposure to media violence. Discuss news of violence only when children cannot overhear the conversations.
- Invite children to talk about their fears, and listen closely to their comments.
- Be alert to your children’s body language, often indicating excessive anxiety or fear, including abnormal behavior, aggression toward others, insomnia, self-destructive behavior, eating problems, etc.
If necessary, seek professional help.
- Spend devotional time together as a family, praying and reading Scripture.
- Reassure children that home and school are safe places.
Tips for church leaders
In the wake of traumatic events in society and personal trauma experienced by congregation and community members, church leaders can help with healing too.
Here are some suggestions for church leaders:
- Intentionally increase your understanding of trauma. Research local and national organizations that provide counseling and education, and make these resources available to the congregation.
- Talk more about trauma and relate your own experiences with it from the pulpit.
- Recognize that some groups, including women, young adults, minorities, the unemployed and those with less education, have higher rates of trauma.
- Become a community of healing.
Increase your level of empathy and recognize that the pain of trauma decreases over months and years, not days. Patience and support are key.
- Reach out to those in your community who have experienced trauma but don’t attend church.
- Encourage Bible reading and study.
- Preach about how forgiveness impacts healing. Remember that reconciliation isn’t necessary for healing.
- Provide safe spaces and train people how to listen with patience and empathy, not necessarily give practical advice.
Click here to read about the top sources of trauma among Christians.
Click here to read about the lasting effects of trauma.
Click here to read how student leaders can help with anxiety disorders in children.