How to talk to your kids about race and social justice amid protests

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MILWAUKEE -- As protests fill the streets of southeastern Wisconsin calling for an end to racial injustice, it can be a confusing time for kids.

"I think they're also seeing some unusual things. People marching down the street -- that is not typical for kids to view," John Ernst, psychotherapist and professional counselor said.

Health professionals suggest using these times as teaching moments to open up the conversation about race with young ones.

"Providing a safe space to have these types of conversations is critical for their development, and also correcting any misinformation that they may receive," said Gabrielle Jones of Rogers Behavioral Health.

Local doctors say the younger the better -- but it starts with the parents.

"Even before having the conversation about what's going on, you really have to set the groundwork for discussing race, and diversity, and what that looks like," Jones said.

Then, heath officials say you should listen to your kid about what they might be feeling, and ask them open-ended, non-judgmental questions.

Use resources like books -- or Sesame Street -- as teaching tools.

"I encourage having this conversation not just once, but ongoing, routinely, because your kids will always have questions," Lakiesha Russell of Children's Wisconsin.

Doctors say while it might be a time of unrest, it also can bring you closer to your kids.

"I believe that they represent opportunities for us to be closer with our kids, have conversations with them, teach them tolerance and worthwhile values," Ernst said.

For resources for parents -- including children's books -- click here.

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