In the aftermath of the terrorist attacks in Paris and San Bernardino, Calif., parents and teachers struggled with some hard questions: When is it appropriate to talk to kids about the kind of merciless violence that could strike anyone at any time? And after we've decided on "when," how?

The most difficult part, many educators concur, is striking the balance between helping children understand what has happened while not making them too frightened. This latter task is particularly challenging, because, after all, terrorism is scary for everyone — not just kids.

But the situation is further complicated when a tragedy draws negative attention to one's own community. Maryland resident Irfan Murtuza wrote in a letter to the editor in The Washington Post in November: "As a Muslim parent, I confront an additional challenge in talking to my children about the 'Islamic State': explaining that it does not speak for Muslims in the midst of raised voices insisting otherwise."

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