Today is World Refugee Day

Children's news site Xyza offers advice for talking to kids about the refugee crisis.

What is the definition of “refugee”? According to, a refugee is someone who has been forced to flee his or her country because of persecution, war, or violence.

When I was a child, I don’t remember hearing anything about refugees. I do remember the feeling of terror when I thought I was momentarily lost from my parents. I know the terror of losing sight of my toddler for a few moments in a crowded store.

Today, we see boats carrying refugees to Europe. Children may hear stories or catch glimpses on the news of the refugees fleeing Syria. Our children are hearing about children at our own borders being separated from their parents, fearful that they may never see them again. Some of these people fit the definition of refugee.

An article in Time Magazine explains the current U.S. “zero tolerance” border policy and refers to a letter published by the American Academy of Pediatrics that says separating a child from a parent can do “irreparable harm, disrupting a child’s brain architecture and affecting his or her short- and long-term health.”

How do we explain these events to children? I wouldn’t even know where to begin to explain such terror. Young children should be shielded from such images as much as possible, and reassured that they are safe and secure. Older children may be interested in reading about refugees. Here are some kid-appropriate articles from Xyza: News for Kids. Children can read them, or parents can use them as a way to discuss the refugee crisis in a large context.

What does the Refugee Crisis mean? 

A look and an insightful refugee map of the world. Check out the article here. 

Why did one family choose to help? 

A host family shares why they took in a refugee family. Read the story about Tim and Kathi here

A refugee story: 

A young refugee talks about what the “World Refugee Day” means to her. Jyoti’s story is here.

What can kids do? 

We asked a director of Human Rights Watch on how kids can help and he shared his responses for young readers here. 

Dinner table conversation:

In our series, we asked the question, "What can adults learn from kids?" A look at a kid’s letter about refugee kids is here  and a look at what people around the world are doing to help is here.

As the topic of refugees starts rising to the top of the news cycle, we want children to be aware of what is happening around them, in a way that makes sense to their young minds.

If you would like to help migrant parents and children separated at the border, here is an article from Refinery29 with some resources:

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About This Blog

Betty Casey has been editor of TulsaKids for over 20 years – her youngest child was 3-years-old when she started working for the magazine. She and her husband Wes have three young adult children. Betty’s blog ranges from writing about current issues or information of interest to local parents, reflecting on her life without kids at home, and posting a few recipes now and then. (Cooking and running are two or her favorite past-times.) Betty is the author/illustrator of three children’s books, "May Finds Her Way," "That is a Hat" and "The Prince of the Prairie" (The RoadRunner Press). She was named Blogger of the Year in 2014 by The Great Plains Journalism Awards, was a finalist in 2015 and won again in 2016. Most recently, she was named the 2017 News Blogger of the Year. She has also won numerous writing awards from the Parenting Media Association.

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