Concerning Kids – Calling evil by its name


Christian Life

Anna Gnatyshyna, CNE.news

Messages and items are left at a makeshift memorial outside the entrance to the Covenant Presbyterian Church, the site of a school shooting in Nashville. Photo EPA Justin Renfroe

The main villain in Harry Potter’s books is never to be named. Most figures in the wizarding world refuse to call his name. Instead, they call him “You-Know-Who” or “He Who Must Not Be Named”. Only Harry Potter mentions his name because ‘Fear of a name increases fear of the thing itself.’ True resistance starts with calling evil by its name.

What do you tell your kids about horrific terrorist attacks in European cities? How do you explain mass school shootings, child trafficking or the war in Ukraine? Even if you do not let your children watch the news, or you don’t discuss it in front of the kids, they will still know about terrible things that happen. They will learn it from their friends in school, via social media or from other adults.

Children need to talk about evil. After the Paris attacks in 2016, ChildLine reported more than 100 calls, some from young children (as young as nine years old) who shared their fears about the terrorist attacks. These incidents continue to happen, and we as adults should be able to call them by their names and talk to children about it.

Here are some ideas for how to explain evil from a Christian perspective:

God’s original plan for the world was perfect. He wanted people to live good life and love each other. God gave people free will to choose what to do. Unfortunately, people chose evil. Now evil happens because of the poor, sinful choices that people have made.

There are people whose hearts are filled with darkness and sin. They hurt others intentionally and bring destruction and death to others. That is why we hear about terrorist attacks, shootings and war.

But God created a way for this world to change and become a safe and wonderful place again. He will do it in the future when He defeats all evil and punishes all evildoers.

Now God wants us to learn from Him how to choose the good. We cannot become good by our own strength, but God can give us the power to have His light in our hearts. If we follow God, we will join His side and enjoy the future great world.

We cannot change other people and force them to be good. But we have a responsibility to make good choices ourselves, like listening to parents, helping, being kind, asking forgiveness, etc.

When talking about horrible things, we should be gentle and careful with our words. Evil should be called its name and discussed. Open conversation helps children to overcome their fears while processing the reality of a broken world and their own responsibility to choose the right. True resistance starts with calling evil by its name.

About the author

Anna Gnatyshyna.jpg
Anna Gnatyshyna. Photo Anna Gnatyshyna

Anna lives in Kyiv and runs an Evangelistic Children's Club. She is a Children's Ministry Coordinator in Eurasia with the organisation OneHope. Anna studied theology and is a guest teacher at the Kyiv Theological Seminary.



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