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Psychiatrist tells parents to be truthful when talking about the terrorist acts

By By Ida Brown and Steve Gillespie/The Meridian Star
Sept. 12, 2001
Presenting news of massive death and terror to children, especially the very young, can be challenging, said Terry Jordan, a Meridian psychiatrist who serves as medical director at Alliance Health Center.
Age, maturity and development of the child should be considered in explaining terrifying events.
Caution urged
Another factor in determining how to explain difficult situations is how close the situation hits home.
The best approach, Jordan said, is often determined by the child.
As events unfolded in New York and Washington on Tuesday, Meridian's public schools remained open and students carried on with as much routine as possible.
Students informed
As news spread of the terrorists' attack on the World Trade Center in New York and the Pentagon in Washington, local school officials made special announcements on public address systems.
Officials at Magnolia Middle School also publicly announced the event. The school's classrooms are equipped with TV sets and students were allowed to watch a few minutes of a news broadcast before resuming their regular class schedule.
But at West Hills Middle School, school officials chose not to make a public announcement because of the age of the students. In fact, a scheduled fire drill was canceled.
Teachers act
Most students in the Lauderdale County School District received news of the attacks through a morning television program geared for students, according to superintendent David Little.
Mac Barnes, principal of the sixth through 12th grades at Lamar School, told classes about the terrorist attacks. Televisions were placed in some classrooms so students could follow the news.
Termie Land, who serves as head of school at Lamar, said faculty in kindergarten to fifth grade were informed of the terrorist attacks not the children. Land said the school let the parents tell their children.
The school postponed an open house planned for the elementary school and a soccer game scheduled with Jackson Prep.
Ida Brown is special sections editor of The Meridian Star. Call her at 693-1551, ext. 3224, or e-mail Steve Gillespie is a staff writer for The Meridian Star. Call him at 693-1551, ext. 3233, or e-mail him at