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Education leaders and parents weigh in on talking to kids about violence at the Capitol

Maine Education Association's president said teachers have a responsibility to help students process what happened.

PORTLAND, Maine — "My 14-year-old politically debates on TikTok," said Rebecca Throop, a mom who lives in Lee, New Hampshire.

Throop said by the time she got home from work on Wednesday, her youngest son saw images and videos from what transpired at the Capitol.

She said her son immediately started asking questions. Throop has always encouraged both of her sons, ages 14 and 18, to ask questions about what they see on social media. And they don't shy away from tough topics.

"I think talking about it in a rational way is really important," said Heidi Emmons. 

Emmons lives in North Hampton, New Hampshire, and has three kids ages 12, 16, and 23. She's also an 8th-grade science and debate teacher. She says talking about what transpired is necessary because her students are politically engaged. 

RELATED: US Capitol Riot: What we know about the chaos in DC, aftermath

"Kids are involved," Emmons said. "They're listening to what their parents are saying and it's really divided even in the school."

Emmons and Throop are among the adults everywhere talking about the chaos that unfolded with children and teens.

"They don't always have the context nor the experience or perspective to put words to everything they might be feeling," Regan Nickels, the Superintendent of RSU 22 in Hampden, said.

She said no matter the age group there's one thing any teacher or parent can do when talking about this topic.

"Just show concern for what it is that they want to bring up and if they choose to walk away from the conversation, let it be," she said.

Nickels sent a letter to teachers with resources on how to navigate their conversations with students

Grace Leavitt the president of the Maine Education Association added teachers have a responsibility to help students process what happened and educate how the process is supposed to work. 

"Help our students understand how we can disagree on a topic and we can still discuss things," she said.

She said Wednesday can serve as a learning moment for students with help from their teachers and parents.

"Ultimately, it's not my job to force my opinion on [my kids]. It's my job to educate them on how to develop their own opinion," Rebecca Throop said. 

RELATED: 'It is critical for kids' | Talking with your kids about the 2020 election

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