Two weeks later, terrorists attacked London on a Saturday night, and the cycle repeated - fear and uncertainty. And then at the end of a traumatic month, the fire which engulfed London’s Grenfall Tower reminded us that even the places we live aren’t always safe. While the ‘One Love’ concert in Manchester showed hope and solidarity, for many of our children and young people, this month the world has seemed more terrifying than ever before.

In a world that seems terrifying on a regular basis (and as tragic deaths of 29 Coptic Christians this month reminds us, these kind of things happens around the world all the time), how can we support the children and young people we work with? Here are a few ideas.


It’s really important to give children the chance to talk about these kind of events. This might be the first time they’ve ever really had to process something like this, and giving them the space to talk and grieve will stop them bottling it all up, give you the chance to know where they’re at and let them know that their fears and concerns are valued.


In times like this, we can default to trying to shield our children and young people from the rest of the world; we put on a brave face and keep our upper lip stiff. But while the Manchester images were dominated by children, there were also scenes of parents waiting for children to leave the concert.

Perhaps for many of us, this might be the first time this has hit home for us as adults, as well as for our children. With that in mind, it’s fine to let kids know that you’re scared and sad. It’s fine to let them know that the world is scary and not as it should be. It’s fine to let them know that you don’t understand how these things can happen.

Ian Hopkins, chief constable of Greater Manchester Police said: “Terrorists will attempt to disrupt our lives and create distrust and fear in our communities. We have a long history here in Greater Manchester of our communities standing together in difficult times.” These kinds of events can, and did, lead to division, they can lead to our Muslim friends facing particularly strong scrutiny. Times like this are a time for unity, not division. It’s important to let children and young people know that these aren’t an act of an angry god or a correct religious interpretation, but of twisted individuals.

But while we can be real with young people, it’s also important to reassure them, to let them know that they’re safe and that God is with them in the darkest, scariest times, in fact perhaps especially in these times. While it’s fine to feel afraid, we know that God is with us. The world is a terrifying place at the moment, but our prayer is that this next generation would not be one characterised by fear. As 1 John puts it: “Perfect love drives out fear.” In a broken, despair-filled world, may we choose hope, not fear.


Finally, let’s turn our attention to God; sometimes in these situations we might not feel like we have the words, but our kids might. One of the first things many people heard on the news the morning after the Manchester attack was an interview with 10-year-old Katy Walton who was at the concert: “I’m feeling sad that people have been put to risk for people being mean.” Let children pray, let them suggest what to pray for, give them the chance to pass their fears and worries over to God.

There are no easy answers when events like this occur. God might feel far away, to us as well as to the children and young people we work with. Sometimes the opposite is true. Sometimes in the rawest, most painful moments, God feels unexplainably close. What children and young people don’t need in these moments are empty platitudes. They need honesty. If you’re struggling, tell them. If you’re searching for answers, tell them.

It’s really easy in what feels like an age of attacks, terrorism and fear, to live on the defensive, but there’s things we can do to be proactive in our communities. How can we show solidarity with our Muslim brothers and sisters? How can we ensure our churches and groups are places of reconciliation and hope, rather than division and fear? Many of the most beautiful images in the weeks after the Manchester bombings came from the concert in Manchester: teenage girls with broad grins as they saw their heroes perform; parents and kids singing and laughing together; policemen dancing to Ariana Grande. Whatever the twisted minds of the people behind the bombing imagined the outcome might be, it certainly wasn’t a policeman doing ring-a-ring-of-roses with children during a Justin Bieber performance. But the good, the hope that fills our concerts, our churches and our ministries, that’s what these people want to destroy and that’s why there’s great power every time we choose hope and life over fear and division.