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How to talk to kids about the Derek Chauvin trial?

Apr 21, 2021

Former Minneapolis police Officer Derek Chauvin watches the jury leave the courtroom after verdicts were read at his trial for the 2020 death of George Floyd on Tuesday at the Hennepin County Courthouse in Minneapolis, Minn.
Credit PBS NewsHour

Moments before the verdict in the Derek Chauvin trial was announced, Kevin McGowan, superintendent at the Brighton Central School District, shared how his district’s would talk about the trial. 

McGowan said it’s not about telling kids what they should think, but giving them a safe space to form their own thoughts and share their feelings. 

“We need to be exceptionally careful about sharing our own deeply held personal beliefs in a way that makes it impossible for a student to freely express their personal beliefs,” McGowan said, adding that conversations need to be age-appropriate.

Kevin McGowan is the superintendent of Brighton Central School District since 2009.
Credit BCSD

At Brighton schools, teachers are prepared to facilitate difficult conversations, and for older students, teachers will treat the trial as a civics lesson. McGowan expects these will be difficult conversations.  

“Finding the right way to acknowledge that there are different perspectives is important,” he said. “Understanding that there are children in our classrooms whose parents are related to or involved in law enforcement in some way and that they are dedicated public servants, also while understanding that that hasn’t been the experience for all children and families.”

McGowan wants students to be able to voice their perspectives, but he says racist ideologies will not be tolerated.

“Essentially you can’t be treating a person well or at least think you are and express racist beliefs, so that’s not okay,” McGowan said.

In a message to the district on Monday, the superintendent shared the following resources for navigating these conversations at home:


Talking to Kids About Fear and Violence (Mental Health America)

Age-Related Reactions to a Traumatic Event (The National Child Traumatic Stress Network)

Talking to Children About Violence: Tips for Parents and Teachers