Sometimes I have trouble finding the words to talk to my kids about the violence that hear about in the news, the injustices that they see in our own community. As a human rights lawyer, it is my job is to document and expose human rights abuses. But I have always struggled with how to communicate to my kids what human rights are and why they should care about them.
Recently, however, I was preparing for a project that involved interviewing children about their experiences. Experts advise that interviewers use simple language when speaking with children about difficult topics. “Simple language” means avoiding big words, of course, but it also means using simple, direct sentences. Straight-forward grammar – subject and predicate in sentences; basic speech parts – nouns and verbs and adjectives. I suddenly realized what I was doing wrong in talking about human rights with my kids. Rather than explaining complicated concepts, what I needed to do was break it down to the core values that everyone needs to live fully in this world. I needed to start with the basic building blocks of language: words. (more…)