'They don't have to be scared': Talking to kids about the New Zealand attacks

In the days after a mass shooting in New Zealand, Calgary Muslims who work closely with children are left thinking about how to talk to kids about the violence.

The death toll in the massacre has now risen to 50 people.

On March 15, a gunman opened fire on two mosques in Christchurch. Part of the attack was live-streamed on Facebook.

Kaniz Fatima, a teacher at Calgary Islamic School, said she spent the weekend after the mass shooting preparing to talk to her seven-year-old students about what happened.

"Mostly what we do when they bring this thing up, we try [to let them know] that we will ensure their safety. We are there for their safety, and they don't have to be scared," Fatima said.

She said it's important students understand lockdown procedures but that they need to be communicated in an age-appropriate way.

"[They learn about] being careful about their surroundings, all those things. But at the same time, they are strong enough — not scared of those things and not having bad dreams. So it's really difficult," Fatima said.

Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi responds to the double mosque shooting in Christchurch, New Zealand:

Riyaz Khawaja, peace activist and president of the Hussaini Association of Calgary, said he was at his mosque when news broke about the shooting.

He said his mosque runs youth workshops to teach children of all faiths how to stay away from hate and racism.

"We encourage our kids to learn how to live peacefully [with] each other and at the same time we have to educate the masses on this," Khawaja said.

James Young/CBC

He encourages children to use their voices to speak out against violence, with adults leading by example.

"We have to condemn these things. Once we condemn those things, kids sit next to us in our homes in our city. They learn from us. And if we just stay silent, this thing is going to get more often in more places."