Congratulations Parents: You Just Bought Your Child a Kevlar Suit of Fear

12.21.12

Parents are buying their children bulletproof backpacks. Military fathers are standing guard at their children’s schools.

military elementary school

 

A man went on the local news with a watch that looks like it’s from a Dick Tracy cartoon and had Marc Klass tell us that it would have saved his daughter’s life. I think that’s a stretch.


My friend won’t let her 10 year old son ride his bike around the neighborhood because she’s worried he’s going to be abducted. Another friend won’t let her 14 year old child have sleepovers because they are afraid of molestations. Still more won’t allow their 11 year olds to cross the street.

These actions make children vulnerable. Every time you tell a child they are incapable of crossing a street, riding a bike or trusting an adult you’ve primed them for predators real and imagined (though most likely imagined). Yes, we’ve recently had a sniper attack on young children. Yes, this is tragic and, yes, as predicted the news coverage was reckless and predatory and as a result of local news becoming national news we have endless copycats and temporarily heightened security.

My phone is ringing and two local security guard businesses have asked for coverage here. Apparently people hire armed guards for weddings, sleepover parties and when their husbands are out of town. If you’re a lesbian or a single mother you should probably just hire one full time I suppose.

No one is standing up and saying: This is crazy.

Not a single news anchor looks at these fear peddlers and says, “You’re out of your mind”.

I’m here to tell you that this is crazy. The media circus has spoon fed you fear and you’re dutifully passing it along to your children.

The NRA would like to go into the business of training armed guards for schools. Make no mistake this is the same money grab as the Kevlar Backpacks, Teflon GPS devices and track-a-kid iPhone apps. This is what it looks like when you use fear as a marketing tool.

The NRA says:

As brave, heroic and self-sacrificing as those teachers were in those classrooms, and as prompt, professional and well-trained as those police were when they responded, they were unable — through no fault of their own — to stop it.

Are we sure that’s true? Are we sure that a 27th person wasn’t saved? A 28th or even a 50th? Does no one recall the two armed guards that were unable to keep 13 children safe at Columbine High School?

You’re scaring your kids. You’re also scarring them.

The world isn’t a scary place, we have scary moments and Newtown will have a generation that’s rightfully scarred but there’s no reason for the whole country to be reactive.

When I look at the Leo Watch site I’m greeted with this message.

selling fear leowatch

Every year 800,000 children are reported missing in the US. This includes runaways, non-custodial parent issues, kids who are simply late and acquaintance disappearances. Of the 800,000 missing children 115 of them are abducted by strangers.

You’re going to not let your child cross the street because in a country of of 314 million 115 children are abducted by strangers? We have more lottery winners than stranger abductions.

If you want to talk about the risk of homicide then statistically the most dangerous person in a child’s life appears to be their own parents with friends being the second most dangerous and strangers accounting for 3% or less of all infant and child homicide to age 5 in the last few decades.

Maybe we don’t need armed guards in schools? Maybe we need parents to stop killing their own kids?

My point is this. The news is over and we don’t need to be gawking at the folks in Newtown any longer. Yes we should support them and yes, we should be looking to reform gun control. Before anyone tells you that armed guards in schools are a good idea remind them that Columbine High School had not one but two armed guards on site.

Perhaps the NRA is having fantasies that we’re living in a spaghetti western and the good guys don’t bleed.

 

Telling Our Own Stories

12.17.12

In blogging it’s sometimes difficult to know which stories are ours to tell. Victoria has been pushed into the unimaginable situation of burying a nephew, a child and you can see here on AC that she’s beautiful and eloquent and protective of the surviving siblings and of her own child. There’s a #LoveForNoah hashtag on twitter that folks might want to follow.

It’s unimaginable that as I write this a family is burying a child so small. We don’t have words for this. We have widows and widowers, we have orphans but we have no words to describe parents who have lost children. Perhaps because there is no single word that could describe the pain. It’s terrifying that a community would have twenty pairs of parents with holes in their hearts and as a nation we feel some of what they feel. It’s a grief so palpable it radiaties coast to coast and beyond.

But it’s not our grief. Our kids are okay and many of them won’t know about this for a dozen years or more because they are too small to comprehend what has happened so recently. Let’s not burden anyone unnecessarily, let’s fight the urge to co-opt the grief of others for pageviews or attention.

We have problems folks. We have big problems with our media. They’re doing a pretty good job of keeping the story to the victims but we’ve been warned by mental health experts that our obscene coverage of this tragedy will bring about more shootings. When I say that the coverage is obscene I’ve chosen my words carefully. If our 24 hour news stations were movies they would be rated R, and sometimes NC 17. I will once again suggest that parents everywhere turn the news off when their children are home. If your kids know the story already there’s no reason to beat them over the head with it. They are children and if this isn’t your hometown or your family it’s fair to let it go.

We have problems with our gun laws. A Bushmaster AR-15 is a weapon that our military uses in Afghanistan. It’s unnecessary for hunting or even home defense. The AR-15 is a weapon meant to spray down the enemy. I like that there are weapons in this house I’m not anti-gun, I’m anti-semi-automatic weaponry. Everyone should be, that’s just reasonable.

We as a nation don’t care for our infirm. We don’t care for folks who have cancer, we don’t care for children who have pneumonia and we don’t care for the mentally ill. We fail in healthcare in every direction and unfortunately the only reason mental health will be addressed in the coming weeks is because it hurt someone besides the mentally ill. You see, had he just killed himself (as people so often do) there would be murmurings and hand wringing but because this particular bout of mental illness collided with evil actions and killed so many people we are forced to deal with the suffering of hundreds, perhaps thousands who will be pained by the loss of their loves. We only pay attention to mental illness when it leaks out into our pristine spaces. This is an unspeakably selfish flaw in our society.

A mother wrote a compelling piece that millions have seen. She wrote about what it’s like to live with a violet and mentally ill teenage boy. It’s well written and had she done anything to disguise her child I’d share it with you now. She compared her son to a host of mass murderers. It’s unimaginable to me that mothers will exploit their own. Some say it’s her Hail Mary and that she’s sharing out of desperation. I know it’s a good discussion but I like it better when we discuss ourselves and not our children’s weaknesses.

I know that there are stigmas to mental illness. Perhaps the duty of breaking those barriers belongs to the mentally ill and not to those they trust.

We deal with the parts of illness we can see. We deal with cancer because we can see bald and frail and we can see death but we don’t deal with depression because that’s a quiet one that slips by us. On my corner is a man who stares into space all day. He’s homeless and there’s no good reason for it. He’s clearly mentally ill but he doesn’t hurt anyone so he doesn’t get help. He reeks of urine and feces and his legs are swollen and red with cuts that don’t heal. We don’t care for him and it’s a crime.

We as a nation have failed to care for our children, our elderly and our infirm. A great society would do these things before all else.

A victims relief fund has been set up for Sandy Hook and a fund to pay for Noah’s funeral and related expenses has also been set up.