GREENSBORO, NC- After three people were killed and dozens injured following protests in Charlottesville, VA, one only needs to look on the internet to continue witnessing the divide among several groups.
How do we embrace love instead of hate? How do we talk to each other about our differing opinions without attacking someone’s beliefs? How do we help children and teens digest and move past what they've seen in healthy ways?
Psychotherapist Dr. Nannette Funderburk joined WFMY News 2 is answering some of those questions.
“The same way that you would talk to kids about bullying in schools, that is how you would start this conversation,” began Funderburk. “What’s really going on now is bullying on steroids.”
Funderburk suggested talking to children who might have witnessed the chaos in person or via the internet by allowing them to freely express themselves.
“Ask the child if they’re seeing things that their gut instinct or a gut reaction seems like it was unfair. Ask the child, if something like this were happening on your playground in a very, very small scale, how would you react? You have to simplify to situations they would understand. Because it may be difficult for them to see all of the news footage and be able to digest it.”
When talking about the situation at work or in a group setting, Funderburk suggested starting off slow, especially if you know people have different opinions than you own.
“You don’t want to go in there and force your opinion on someone else. Because more than likely, you’re not going to change someone’s mind right in that moment,” said Funderburk. “Many of these things are based on strongly held beliefs. So, we’re got to address what is the belief of that person and is it founded in reality or is it perceived that it may not be true.”
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Funderburk said the conversations have to start in safe environments and conversations should be had in ways that don’t escalate.
“You can say, I’m feeling uncomfortable about the conversation and leave it at that.”
AS for coping with disturbing images, memes, video and downright cruel jokes on the internet revolving around the past 48 hours of violence, Funderburk said to take a moment and unplug from the phone and computer.
“Give yourself a rest, focus on something positive and if you do feel like talking it out with someone, have conversations with people you trust and who are loving and supportive towards you. Then, if you want to have conversations with people of different backgrounds or differing races, approach it as though you were a novice and are trying to understand what is seemingly not understandable.”