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Regarding Jun Hongo’s March 25 Q&A article, “Should kids be shielded from coverage of disaster?“: In my opinion, and as a result of personal experience with tragedy, children should play a big part in knowing what’s happening with issues. In my neighborhood, I see elementary school-age kids playing around as if nothing has happened. When I asked one child if she was scared, she said not at all. She replied with arrogance and dignity as if nothing could happen to her, ever.

I think we should teach children in a positive way that tragedy does occur, that nature is uncontrollable, and how to learn from such experiences. Children should feel affected so that they learn compassion rather than mere stoicism and coldness. This education should give them a positive outlook in life and, who knows, might even help them become better citizens and more sensitive to others’ needs in times of chaos.

It’s a big lesson for children to understand that life doesn’t always revolve around them with food on the table, flowing water and hot baths. They should turn off electricity when it isn’t needed, shop with moderation and, most of all, learn to be grateful. They should learn to become involved, to give support, and to volunteer for their community when the time comes.

As elders, we must teach our children that we all need each other and that no person can remain an island in the comforts of his or her warm bedroom and cozy futon. All of this can be taken away in an instant, anytime.

As an earthquake country, Japan should start educating all its children on steps for dealing with a tragedy like the Tohoku-Pacific earthquake and tsunami, for appreciating the good things we have around us, and for loving and respecting every individual, young and old.

maria fujisawa

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