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To not want my daughter looking at image of concentration camps

(268 Posts)
Coffeeessential Wed 02-Oct-13 11:33:19

My daughter has just started Yr 5, and is studying World War 2 this year. She was already having difficulty coping with the subject as she is so sensitive, but I saw nothing wrong with her being given the basic facts as long as there was not too much detail - She's only nine after all.
When she came home very quiet yesterday afternoon, she told me that the class had been looking at online images of 'Jews in concentration camps', and I am furious. While I understand that we cannot protect children from the world forever, surely nine is too young to even begin comprehending such terrible images?
I would appreciate other people's opinions, before I go crashing into the Headmaster's office!

DesperatelySeekingSedatives Wed 02-Oct-13 12:25:04

YANBU to be annoyed that they were left to google images of the Holocaust. Some of those images would be terribly distressing especially if you werent expecting it IYSWIM.

If the teacher was showing them images she/he had selected themself I wouldnt have a problem with that. It's important to learn about these things so that future generations can stop it happening again.

Dobbiesmum Wed 02-Oct-13 12:25:11

But at what age do you start to expose your children to more graphic images if you think that western children are too sensitive? I saw tv coverage of a 2 year old girl in Syria not long ago. The horrors she must have seen broke my heart. My youngest is nearly 2, do I let her see?

valiumredhead Wed 02-Oct-13 12:25:43

I'd be on the phone to the head asap of the kids were left to google by themselves.

valiumredhead Wed 02-Oct-13 12:25:55


Goldenbear Wed 02-Oct-13 12:26:40

I was a child who was regularly exposed to the harsh 'realities' of other peoples' lives both in history and via a daily explanation of the news. I used to enjoy pretending to be a radio DJ and I have a tape recording of my Father asking me whether I was aware what was happening in the 'Gulf war'? I remember watching the film, 'The Killing Fields',at about 7 years old and being disturbed by the scene where executions are carried out by the Khmer Rouge. I asked my Father if it was true and he replied, 'yes I'm afraid it did happen.'. He did not believe in protecting us from the depressing realities of life. I think the biggest problem with this approach is that you are burdened with very shocking images at a very young age, once I had seen and heard about these atrocities I spent most of my childhood thinking what a miserable proposition the human condition was. I don't have SEN but was a pretty depressed child/teenager and I think this had a lot to do with it.

TeenAndTween Wed 02-Oct-13 12:26:47

My DD2 is 9. She would be highly upset by seeing photos of concentration camps. She would end up not being able to sleep, nightmares etc. (I know this from her reaction to far less upsetting things).

She is aware that in the war people weren't nice to the Jews (and others), and that lots of them were killed. She is also aware that vast numbers of soldiers died protecting our country and liberating France. We have taken her to war cemetries and she has seen exhibitions on the occupation of Jersey etc.

But concentration camp photos (especially free for all access on google) needs to be Secondary school at least. When DD1 was 12 we went to the IWM and I took her to the holocaust exhibition. We looked at the photos, but even then didn't dwell on them massively.

Yes they are distressing to all ages. But most 9 year olds don't have the emotional maturity to cope with them that 14 or 25 year olds have.

valiumredhead Wed 02-Oct-13 12:27:54

I'm quite grateful that the schools do cover this,I think if left to parents there would be huge gaps in children's knowledge of history.

cardamomginger Wed 02-Oct-13 12:28:04

I think 9 is too young for these sorts of images, but not too young to learn about WW2, including the concentration camps. There are ways to impart knowledge appropriately, that do not either make use of or rely on these sorts of shocking images. Some images of people in concentration camps are appropriate for a 9 year old, others are not.

Yes, we are fortunate that we do not live in such times/places. But the fact that others do, does not create some kind of imperative to expose young children to extremely upsetting and shocking images. The moral responsibility is to educate appropriately and at a level where the child can engage and understand. Obviously this changes over time.

As for those people who say that they are irritated with adults who won't face up to the real horrors of the world and educate their children about them - where do you draw the line at what you show children? There are far worse things that went on in concentration camps (and elsewhere) than black and white images of bodies being bulldozed. How about some the medical experiments? What about the video of Daniel Pearl being decapitated? That OK for a 9-year old? And why not younger?

The fact that young children have to witness traumatic events does not set the bar for showing depictions of such events to our own children. These children who have witnessed atrocities are TRAUMATISED.

Deciding that a particular subject or type of image depicting an otherwise appropriate subject is inappropriate for a child at a certain age is not mollycoddling. It is taking a longer term view as to the child's education and when to introduce topics/images in a way that will be meaningful.

In short, YANBU. But don't go in all guns blazing.

MollyHooper Wed 02-Oct-13 12:28:28

Perhaps there have been some crossed wires about how the teacher went about this?

Do speak to her/him about how they use the internet while in class OP.

Lonecatwithkitten Wed 02-Oct-13 12:28:51

There wasn't a time in my life that I didn't know what you my grandmother found when she walked through the gates of Neunegamme as part of the allied forces advance team in 1945. She passionately believed that the only way to try and prevent it from happening again was for this to be something that enters our lives at a very young age.
Whilst she sadly never meet my DD I have carried out her wishes and not restricted it to the WW2 holocaust. DD visited Anne Frank's house at 6 and read the abbreviated diary at the same age. In year 4 they read about the holocaust in Rwanda and we have talked about that sadly this is a mistake mankind keep on making.
It is horrible, it should be shocking, but our children should know and understand about it.

TheSporkforeatingkyriarchy Wed 02-Oct-13 12:29:21

OP, were they let loose in google image search or was it a teacher with images from google image search?

I can't really see much value in sending kids to going through an image search on their own on such a difficult topic which is what it sounds like you're saying and I would be concerned about that.

valiumredhead Wed 02-Oct-13 12:29:49

The Killing Fields at age 7?shock

I was 17 when I first saw that and just about coped with it.

squoosh Wed 02-Oct-13 12:30:36

Well said cardamomginger.

Lweji Wed 02-Oct-13 12:32:10

A most embarrassed year 6 teacher was left having to explain to parents why pupils may have seen rather more than was intended when they googled images of Queen Victoria's husband, Prince Albert!

I was quite shocked when I googled images of Ben 10. shock
And disturbed. blush

sherbetpips Wed 02-Oct-13 12:33:48

Just noticed by DS is also being taught this. We have avoided this sort of subject up until now but he is becoming more and more aware of the news and what is happening in the world. I think it is important that they understand that there is evil out there, would I take him on a trip to a camp - hell no but picture yes I think he is ready to accept that. It will upset him as he is very sensitive but just because he has a reaction to it doesnt necessarily make it a bad thing?

Lweji Wed 02-Oct-13 12:34:00

She is aware that in the war people weren't nice to the Jews (and others)

Is that how you told her? Not nice? hmm

Mumsyblouse Wed 02-Oct-13 12:34:57

cardamomginger I agree with you, it's really important for children to start to know about these atrocities but not necessarily in such a graphic way that they are quite traumatised for a long time. I stick to film and game classifications pretty strictly myself precisely for that reason.

A nine-year old doesn't have the same cognitive abilities as an adult, nor do they have nearly so much control over their environment, or ways to cope with anxiety. They are still developing and personally I would not want to have one 'go' at explaining the Holocaust, but to let them hear/see about it numerous times and then in that context, view pictures that are upsetting but make sense within what they already know. Going straight in with pictures of bulldozing bodies is just so traumatic many children will shut down anyway, or have nightmares, or just not respond (in front of others in the class). It's just inappropriate to me.

firesidechat Wed 02-Oct-13 12:41:34

The Holocaust happened within living memory in supposedly civilised European countries. That fact in itself is devastating and scary.

I personally think that anything we can do to educate the next generation and try to prevent this happening again is ok. I wouldn't want to start any sooner than age 9 because I don't think that they would be able to understand it at all. It should be handled in a sensitive way though and support given to more sensitive children too.

I believe that after the end of WW2 members of the German population were forced to view the concentration camps in all their horror. It must have been terrible but a justified action in the circumstances.

Mimishimi Wed 02-Oct-13 12:43:00

It's relevant but I don't especially like the way the holocaust has almost become the single focus of human suffering to the neglect or dismissal of equally horrific atrocities, some of which are happening today. Many different groups were targeted in WW2 as well and that often gets forgotten. 60 million people died in WW2 - 40 million in Europe and Russia combined. The effects are ongoing...

unlucky83 Wed 02-Oct-13 12:43:10

Not sure - I think not too worried about them seeing selected images at 9 - but to be let loose on google? (Unless the computers have some kind of filter?)
MY DD1 did WW2 in P7 - 10-11 - the teacher told me (I hadn't asked - we were talking about it generally) she had monitored how much information etc they got...
Even so ....they had to do a project about it at home and although they were given web references for info - a general web search will bring up shocking stuff ...not just about the Holocaust but also other atrocities committed by all sides...
(I knew a German man who was 3 yo when the Russians came through his village on the way to Berlin - he remembered his mother hiding his sisters and him (he was wedged up a chimney)- they escaped - but some of his neighbours didn't - he remembered hearing the screams...)
I know children living in war zones see horrendous things every day ...that isn't right - but that doesn't mean we should deliberately expose young children to images/information like that - if anything we are in danger of desensitising them...
And what they see on the internet can be images that have been collected over a large timespan and large area viewed in a very short space of time ....they don't have time to deal with each image - which is actually different in lots of ways to what children in war zones see...

vkinski Wed 02-Oct-13 12:43:22

Fairly shocked at a couple of the responses here. Chipping - 'does she have any additional needs?' - seriously? FairyJen - 'suck it up' - utter nonsense. Of course it is stressful for a 9 year old seeing such images for the first time, they are at an age where they are learning that the world isn't a big fluffy, perfect place - would you take such a strong stance if it was your child being upset by whatever image a school had shown?

Of course it is important for children to be taught about hugely important historical events like this but there are ways and means of presenting the information to children, who (like adults) all handle things in very different ways. Yes they need to learn, but in a way that doesn't leave them in such a state.

pixiepotter Wed 02-Oct-13 12:45:45

They don't get less shocking as you get older and have more understanding , I would say they get more upsetting.
I honestly think it is a bit precious to worry your child being upset by it, remember some mothers had their children living it!

AnaisHendricks Wed 02-Oct-13 12:51:01

I once had a parent complain that I shouldn't be teaching about the Holocaust at all. That is was a one-off, all over and best forgotten about.

All over indeed. Despite the subsequent (and recent) Rwandan and Bosnian genocides hmm

WilsonFrickett Wed 02-Oct-13 12:51:39

It's not imo precious to restrict what your children are exposed to to make sure it is age-appropriate. I genuinely believe it is counter-productive to make a child bewildered or petrified. It doesn't help them engage with the subject matter at all - showing a child a distressing image achieves nothing without the understanding behind the image.

WWII is complex. To make sure it never happens again people have to understand why it happened, as well as what happened.

GwendolineMaryLacey Wed 02-Oct-13 12:52:59

I used to work in an establishment that, amongst other things, ran programmes to help teachers to teach the Holocaust. Every time I see a thread like this I realise that we were pissing in the wind. There are so many teachers we need to reach and we have no chance of ever doing that.

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