How Nannies Should Talk to Kids About Osama bin Laden’s Death

Children Find it a Moral Dilemma
Are your charges upset that Navy Seals killed Osama bin Laden rather than captured him alive?

While thousands of adult American’s who remember 9/11 are jumping for joy over the death of Osama bin Laden, many children find it a moral dilemma. A friend of mine who is a high school teacher says her students don’t understand why Navy Seals had to kill the man. Even a young adult family member of mine has said, “Does killing Osama bin Laden bring back the 3,000 American’s he killed?”

First, I will address how to talk to kids about the event. Then, I will share links that explain that the Navy Seals were ordered to capture Osama bin Laden alive but to kill him if they were in danger or if he were to resist arrest.

Under five-years old:
Last night on New York CBS local news they explained that children under five-years old should not view television about the event as the images may be disturbing.

School-aged children:
School-aged children may find it a moral dilemma. How can killing another person be considered moral? It is okay and normal for children to ask questions about this difficult moral issue. For example, many children are asking: “If Osama bin Laden was evil for killing, why is it okay for us to kill him?”

New York CBS local news said teens must be urged to not act impulsively due to anger about the event.

To help explain the situation to children over five-years old I have found some links that state that the Navy Seals took care to avoid civilian casualties and were willing to capture Osama bin Laden alive if possible.

Huffington Post:
President Barack Obama’s chief counterterrorism adviser John Brennan said Monday that U.S. military operatives were prepared to capture Osama bin Laden alive but were “absolutely” ready to kill him when he fought back.

“If we had the opportunity to take him alive, we would have done that,” Brennan said during an uncharacteristically candid exchange with reporters at a White House briefing.

Intelligence officials and Obama “extensively” discussed the prospect of capturing bin Laden alive during the U.S. military raid on his compound Sunday, Brennan said, but were “certainly were planning for the possibility … that he would likely resist arrest.” In the end, the al Qaeda leader fought back and was “therefore killed in a fire fight,” Brennan said.

The bottom line, said Brennan, was that “we were not going to put our people at risk.”

Brennan painted a dark scene of bin Laden’s final moments. He said the al Qaeda leader used one of his wives as a human shield while he was being shot at. “From a visual perspective, here is bin Laden … living in this million dollar-plus compound … hiding behind women who were put in front of him as a shield. I think it really just speaks to just how false his narrative has been over the years,” Brennan said. “Looking at what bin Laden was doing hiding there while he’s putting other people out there to carry out attacks again just speaks to, I think, the nature of the individual he was.”

“Thanks to sophisticated satellite monitoring, U.S. forces knew they’d likely find bin Laden’s family on the second and third floors of one of the buildings on the property, officials said. The SEALs secured the rest of the property first, then proceeded to the the room where bin Laden was hiding.”

“A small team of Americans carried out the operation with extraordinary courage and capability. No Americans were harmed. They took care to avoid civilian casualties,” he said. “After a firefight, they killed Osama bin Laden and took custody of his body.”

“In his broadcast announcement President Obama said that U.S. forces ‘took care to avoid civilian casualties.'”

Are your charges upset that Navy Seals killed Osama bin Laden rather than capture him alive?


  1. Truly stellar stuff. Why aren't the editors of this blog working for the New York Times? Awesome. I was trying to convince my 11 yr old charge why we had to kill him, I guess I shouldn't do that just let him express his feelings and let him know the soldiers acted morally in terms of war. It was an act of war against us so I feel no moral issues but it's true kids do.

  2. Clearly these kids are too young to remember. And they probably didn't lose a family member to 9/11. Sorry but I really think it's naive and that those who are upset didn't see the towers fall and lose someone close to them.

  3. THE WORLD IS A SAFER PLACE! He was pure evil and doesn't deserve respect. Don't you get it? Even Muslims hate him, he's evil!

  4. This is why adults are in charge. LOL The parents and I danced and the infant laughed and liked that we danced!

  5. I don't think it should be discussed with little kids by us. But parents for sure. But for kids whose families were influenced with a death of a loved one on 9/11 you have to tell kids.

  6. I think we should stay out of it and ask the parents to discuss with kids but too late. I came in to work dancing and told them.

  7. I should have thought before I spoke. But I announced it monday morning. The kids were happy because the adults were happy.

  8. What the kids don't understand is that no one but his extremest followers even wanted him buried in their country. No one (but his few followers) respected him, he created war and death and destruction. Kids don't know this and are too young to know this so let them question and allow adults to do justice.

  9. Those struggling morally is because they are too far removed from 9/11. If they live in New York or a death of a loved one they would not feel conflicted!3,500 people died in the 9/11 attacks with first responders now ill and dying too early from disease from inahling toxic air too (so much higher than 3,500. They were people just like you and me. Tell the kids that the people who died were Moms, Dads, kids and people very loved and missed today. We may have disagreements when it comes to government but we stand together in moments like this. Regarding killing him and seeing it as murder: people who make bad decisions usually end up in a bad place. Our government did what it needed to do to protect innocent people like those who died on 9/11. They can argue it's murder of bin Laden because they haven't experienced war first hand. The fighting isn't on our soil. If their parent had died on 9/11 or they saw what I experienced they wouldn't be at odds or worried about having killed bin Laden. We can also remind them that the death of this terrorist is the beginning of the end of terrorism but it’s a war our nation is still fighting. Have kids pray for them.We’ll pray for the families who are living without their loved ones and we’ll pray for peace.

  10. Amen Reyna!I didn't tell the child I nanny for she's only 1 year old. I listened to President's speech on radio with her present but she didn't notice.Doesn't seem that long ago so it feels odd to hear about people not appreciating the death of this terrorist. They are too young I think.Like Reyna let's pray for peace!

  11. To adults I want to say it's war, and not an American deserving of a jury trial.I am just glad the kids I care for aren't old enough to have to explain all this to yet.

  12. Those having moral issues aren't able to grasp the magnitude of the crime. If they had experienced it directly they wouldn't have any questions. They should read one obituary per day of those who passed away! How many years would it take to read one obituary a day of those who were lost on 9/11? While reading the obituaries they will read of the tremendous loss created by each and every person. Each individual is a story of a person that is a loss to many. Multiply that by 3,000 Osama derserved to die.Leave this discussion to the parents.

  13. The parents explained it. Mom worked there that day and still works down there now.

  14. Some things don't need to be discussed with kids. Leave it to the parents.

  15. I am a parent and hire a nanny. I explained to my 4 year old that people were happy because there had been a win in the war. War is sad but in war people sometimes die. Best thing you can do is be honest. Tell them that a bad person died, and some people are happy, while some people are sad. It's important to give kids both sides and let them make up their mind.

  16. This is something really big for the country of America. I hope that this is the new beginning for peace.

  17. Any war is a moral dilemma. Sadly we sometimes have war. We Americans didn't choose this. The Americans who got killed on 9/11 had no weapons and couldn't defend themselves either. It's sad anyone has to die but killing bin Laden wasn't a crime, because we were in a war. His actions were crimes.Those questioning his death should have complained before sending soldiers to Iraq. Did you? Iraq never killed Americans until we went there. All your tax money paid for years for no reason at all. Only war we should have fought is against the guy that killed thousands of us, unarmed, on our soil and that's Osama bin Laden and his followers.He absolutely deserved torture, not easy and simple death.

  18. Bin Laden's own family is giving eye witness testimony describing the attack, the Taliban and Pakistan government are confirming the death yet someone doesn't beleive Obama? Republicans are congratulating the US. You don't trust us, don't trust Pakistan, then move to some hole somewhere you dumb idiots.

  19. Bin Laden's own family is giving eye witness testimony describing the attack, the Taliban and Pakistan government are confirming the death yet someone doesn't beleive Obama? Republicans are congratulating the US. You don't trust us, don't trust Pakistan, then move to some hole somewhere you dumb idiots.

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