3. Honesty is the best policy
Often times when tragedy strikes, the tendency is to want to shield children from the situation or hide things from them. Yet as behavioral neuroscientist Sergio M. Pellis observes, this protectionist attitude "simply defrays those costs to later." (Wenner, 2009) It can also make a child's fears and anxieties worse, because whether it be from sensing something in your own emotions or hearing about a community tragedy from kids at school, children always find out that something is amiss. In the absence of open and honest communication, the ideas kids form are almost always worse than if parents had just been forthright with them from the beginning.
Parents should always strive to be as open and honest with children as possible. Nothing about life is inappropriate for kids to know about.
From abuse to death to violence, there is nothing gained by trying to hide the realities of life, even the harsher ones we would prefer didn't exist.
There are, however, age differences in comprehension, as well as varying degrees of exposure. Honesty and truthfulness are different from full exposure. It's not helpful to give a small child every gory detail of a violent act or expose them to stimulus that would cause them nightmares or other disturbances. There is plenty of reason to shield children from the full brunt of a difficult situation. The key is to provide lots of comforting while somehow finding the right words to explain things in a truthful, non-deceptive way.
4. Use concise language
Adults often create a lot of confusion for kids when talking about difficult or uncomfortable events, because they invent a different set of terminology to refer to these unpleasantries. For example, a statement such as "there was a shooting at a school today, we lost 26 people" is ripe for confusion. The child may well think, "if they're lost, then let's go find them!" Don't engage in such word ploys. You need to tell kids that someone died, not that they were lost or went to visit Jesus. You shouldn't use the word "hurt" if you know they were actually killed. If someone was shot, you need to say they were shot, not that they were "capped" or that "there was an accident." When you try to use creative language to dance around the horror of what really happened, it's likely to lead to confusion.