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Terrorism is a violent act committed by people who want to get attention for their cause. When a terrorist strikes, it seems like the entire world is upside down and confusing. It’s hard to believe what’s happened or that someone would do something like that.

Acts of terrorism have been a reality in many places for years. In the United States, the worst attacks happened on September 11, 2001. In the years that followed, other attacks also happened in Spain, London, and elsewhere.

Terrorism scares everyone because no one knows when or where it will take place. So how do you cope with it all? Here are some things you can do:

  • Give yourself a fear reality check. It’s normal to be worried about your safety and your family’s safety. Even though your chances of being in an attack are very, very small, the images you see on TV or online make terrorist attacks seem close by.
  • Share your feelings. Anger, sadness, fear, and numbness are some of the reactions you might have. Don’t be embarrassed or afraid to express how you feel. Just talking and sharing your feelings with your parents, friends, teachers, and others can help them and help you.
  • Take care of yourself. Losing sleep, not eating, and worrying too much can make you sick. As much as possible, try to get enough sleep, eat right, exercise, and keep a normal routine. It may be hard to do, but it can keep you healthy and better able to handle a tough time.
  • Limit the time you spend watching the news. It’s good to be informed about what’s happening, but spending hours watching the news reports can make you feel more anxious and sad.
  • Be respectful of others. You may have heard certain countries, religions, or political causes blamed for terrorism. But very few people believe in killing and hurting innocent people to make their point. Don’t give into prejudice by blaming a whole group, or disliking people just because of the country where they were born, the faith they practice, the way they dress, or the color of their skin.
  • Join with others. Participating in candlelight vigils, religious ceremonies, memorial services, or other events can be helpful. It’s a way to show you care and that the community is sticking together during a sad time.
  • Get additional support. A traumatic event can cause strong reactions, but if your feelings make it impossible for you to function and do normal stuff, like go to school, it’s time to seek additional help. Turn to a parent, teacher, religious leader, or guidance counselor, so you can get the help you need.

Reviewed by: D’Arcy Lyness, PhD
Date reviewed: January 2014