Trying to understand the extreme: school children's narratives of the mass killings in Norway July 22, 2011
Journal article, Peer reviewed
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Original versionJørgensen, B. F., Skarstein, D., & Schultz, J. H. (2015). Trying to understand the extreme: school children’s narratives of the mass killings in norway July 22, 2011. Psychology research and behavior management, 8, 51. http://dx.doi.org/10.2147/PRBM.S73685
School-aged children have limited resources for coping with exposure to highintensity media coverage of terrorist events. This study explores pupils’ meaning-making process of their indirect, media-communicated encounters with a specific terrorist event in Norway. Qualitative in-depth interviews about the July 22, 2011 terror attacks were conducted with 54 pupils aged 6–8 years. Seven months after the attacks, the majority had unanswered questions based on more or less accurate knowledge of the events, and they still experienced fear. The media and peers appeared to be their major source of information and not parents or teachers. These children’s narratives, characterized by some detailed facts, limited understanding, and a high degree of fiction, were inadequate for restoring calm and feelings of safety. Examples indicate how teacher-facilitated collaborative activities among pupils dealing with crisis can provide a way to construct meaning-making by stimulating conversations and reflections, and developing the narrative through a process of metacognition can provide for further learning and new insights. Implications for a proactive teacher role are indicated.