As parents most of us try very hard to protect our children from certain news stories that we think they are too young to understand, or that none of us can truly understand. When we can't shield them, we try to present it in an age-appropriate way. Sometimes though, a current event or news story happens in such a way that our kids wind up hearing about it. If this happens before a party, the news can get spread from child to child.
This is certainly the case with the horrible events at the Batman showing in Colorado. Many children probably had Batman parties planned and some probably had plans to see the movie with friends as part of a party. It's important to remember that even if children are old enough to hear about a news story and understand what happened, the emotional impact can be hard to take in. If your pre-teen or teen seems more upset about the impact an event has on her party than the event itself, it doesn't mean she's uncaring. It just means that she's processing it in the way that works for her. This is doubly the case for a younger child. Don't judge or react strongly to selfish statements but try to encourage the child to think about the actual events rather than herself. If you believe your child is going to come across difficult information at a party, you may wish to let him or her know about it beforehand. That way, you control the flow of information. This will also help to ensure that the child feels comfortable coming to you with questions after the party. If you're the host of the party and you hear children talking about a difficult event, you'll want to try to steer the conversation and activity back to the party. A simple, "I'm sure your parents would rather be the ones to give you information on this" can be enough to redirect the conversation. Sometimes it isn't children that are the problem, it's parents. One year, the night before my son's birthday party, a former classmate's father was involved in a local scandal and featured on the nightly news. It's no wonder that it was the first topic of conversation for the parents. Reminding parents that this wasn't the time or place (with a significant look at the playing children) stopped the conversation.