The events of this August—the white nationalist and neo-Nazi demonstrations and terrorism in Charlottesville, the terror attacks in Barcelona, and the white nationalist rallies planned in Northern California communities for this coming weekend—have shaken many of us to our core.

At Girl Scouts, our diversity is our strength. We come from many different backgrounds, religions, cultures and beliefs. We don’t agree on every issue, but we do share the core values that make us Girl Scouts. We are united in our belief that racism, anti-Semitism, Islamophobia, homophobia, bigotry, intolerance, prejudice, and hatred have no place in our Girl Scout movement, as we work to make the world a better place.

In the words of our founder, Juliette Gordon Low: To put yourself in another’s place requires real imagination, but by doing so each Girl Scout will be able to love among others happily.

At this year’s Annual Meeting, girls and adults discussed our roles as Girl Scouts in addressing the many polarizing issues that spark debate today.  Three important points came through loud and clear from our members:

  • We always stand for equality and inclusion in Girl Scouts;
  • Girls want a safe, inclusive  space to exchange  ideas and learn from each other about differing points of view; and
  • Adults want support in learning how to facilitate these conversations with girls.

To help you address these topics with the girls in your life, I’ve put together some resources that will help you work through what they’re feeling and hearing about the world around them. Girl Scouts’ developmental psychologist, Dr. Andrea Bastiani-Archibald, author of the GSUSA blog Raising Awesome Girls, recently addressed this topic in a post called “Talking to Your Daughter About Hate and Violence.” Dr. Bastiani-Archibald offers these tips for creating a safe space to talk with girls about hate and terrorism in our world and the feelings of fear, vulnerability, and loss that so many are experiencing:

  • Admit what she saw was real. Girls need to be able to trust the adults in their lives to tell them the truth. Lying about what really happened ultimately can undermine her trust.
  • Let her lead the conversation. Ask her what she’s thinking and feeling and respond to her questions with age-appropriate answers. Really listen and share your own feelings. Let her know that violence isn’t the answer, and that it’s never ok to stereotype any group of people based on isolated incidents. Make sure to have follow up conversations and check in regularly to see how she’s feeling.
  • Watch what you watch (and say). Consider what you watch and say about frightening current events in front of your daughter, even if you don’t think she’s paying attention.
  • Provide Stability. Having a solid routine can help kids feel more anchored and safe. Keep bedtimes and mealtimes as regular as possible—and if there must be a change in plans, take the time to explain what will happen and why.
  • Reach out for help. If you don’t think your daughter is recovering healthfully from the trauma of recent events, reach out to a school counselor or psychologist for help.

I am honored to stand with my fellow Girl Scouts for inclusion and against hate. Thank you for all that you do to make the world a better place.

What’s next?

Marina ParkMarina Park—Marina is the CEO of Girl Scouts of Northern California, where she works on behalf of 40,000 girl members, 28,000 adults members, a terrific 25-member Board of Directors, and an awesome staff of about 150 year-round passionate men and women and another 200 during summer camp season. Together, we are building the next generation of leaders through girl-led programs that inspire girls to get outside, explore STEM, build life skills and practice entrepreneurship.

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