SO the New Year is now well and truly upon us and Christmas, it seems, is but a distant memory.

Sadly, in Manchester on New Year’s Eve, last year ended badly with what, at first, appeared to be another terrorist attack just yards from the scene of the 2017 attack which left 22 people dead and many more suffering from horrific injuries.

And in the dawn of the New Year we have read about other tragic events including the fatal stabbing of a 14-year-old boy in London.

Such news can be difficult for some young people to comprehend and can be understandably distressing.

So how do we explain such attacks to children and how do we safeguard them from the equally horrific propaganda which they may be exposed to through various social media platforms.

The advice from professionals is that talking about these issues is better than avoiding them.

Give children basic facts, tell them what it is they want to know, ask them what they would like to know and then give them access to that.

Support them and comfort them and be there for them, just respond to how they're responding emotionally. Take the lead from them ­— we need to know what it is they want answers to.

Turning off the television might be a natural protective instinct, but shielding children from traumatic events in the news isn't practical in today's society where they have such ready access to social media.

Parents can't shield children from these events completely and the reality is that children and young people are bombarded by 24/7 news.

The most important thing is for parents to be there and to try to help their children manage their emotions.

Trying to hide the news isn't helpful because they'll hear about it elsewhere, often exaggerated and inaccurate, and parents won't then be there to take them through it.

But whilst it's important to talk about the news, parents should avoid unnecessary and sometimes unpleasant detail.

Parents should also be firm with older children about how much they read on the internet.

Tell your son or daughter not to go scouring the internet for all the inside stories and images.

It is very likely that such actions could result in the child coming across images, videos and articles which could traumatise them for years to come.

When speaking to children, parents should take the lead from their children in how the conversation develops, but should try to include as many calm and reassuring phrases as possible.

We don't want our children feeling afraid to go out, we don't want them not to grow up to lead normal, happy, healthy, well-adjusted lives.

But we should also be honest with them.

Telling the truth is usually the best option, but also giving children lots of reassurance about their normal, everyday activities and about the risks actually being very low.

So how do schools deal with these tough issues?

Most schools will allow the pupils to talk about such attacks.

If students want to talk, teachers will let them ask questions and they will be talking to them about how they can look at appropriate, reliable sources for information.

Schools will also be working hard to emphasise the importance of maintaining a sense of community cohesion and shared values ­— they'll be using every opportunity to celebrate what they have in their own community.

But schools will also be seeking to retain a "business as usual" approach in the wake of such attacks.

The best thing parents could probably do is to reinforce these messages and especially the importance of community cohesion and not allow emotions which fuel hatred or retaliation to develop in their children.

Our children should see that communities unite in the aftermath of such attacks rather than divide.