I can remember the days three of the four kids who call me Dad (three by choice, one by DNA) started school. The smiles. The excitement. Up early, breakfast eaten, clothes picked out the night before were quickly on, unlike the normal "I don't wanna get up/eat/dressed/shoes/etc" mornings. Waiting by the door. Itching to hop in the van and head to school.
And we pull in with all the other parents, walk them across the parking lot, watch as they join their classmates and hold hands and march into The First Day Of School. And hoped, as we drove away, they'd love school. And it wouldn't be a fight.
Me? I loved school. I'm a smart guy. When I was in Elementary and Junior High, I was always one of the smartest kids in the class. Wasn't always popular, never really cared about that. Never worked as hard as I could, which is why I was never top 10 after about 7th grade, mainly because I wasn't challenged. Personally, I just loved the library, the textbooks, the teachers, the AV equipment, later the Computer Lab ... all that stuff. I liked going to school.
And I was glad to see for the most part, the kids liked it too. Hell, one of the younger kids threw a fit when they had to leave their older sibling at school and NOT stay for school because, well, you're three, they're five. You'll have your turn. And sure, they had their bad days, everyone does. But they seemed to like school. After moving to Virginia, and some issues with the quality of schools and some of their policies, the youngest three were home-schooled and liked that even better. But they're teenagers, so you'll have that. Sleep later, have more interesting and practical classwork. Stuff like that. An education that's not dumbed down as, sadly, most of the curriculum is these days.
What bugs me the most about what happened in Newton, Connecticut, last week, where teachers had to be heroes, taking bullets while hiding kids from a madman with four guns at Sandy Hook Elementary School, is that every kid in that school, in that area, in the state, and kids from all over the nation now don't have school as a safe sanctuary. Newton is an upper middle-class neighborhood. If it can happen there, it can happen anywhere.
I always felt safe in school. I always felt safe when the kids were in school. I'm upset that now, a whole generation of kids have had their school experience tainted by school shootings. And, no, I'm not gonna be like BAN ALL THE GUNS because I know guns don't kill people, people kill people. In this case, mental illness killed 20 kids and seven adults in a school. That's what we need to focus on. Sure, the crazy guy with pulled the triggers and the four guns fired the bullets that put the holes in the people that the blood rushed out of really fast, but the issue here is not guns. It's mental illness.
And that's what we need to focus on to move forward. It's time to bury the dead, hope the wounded can heal, hope the first responders can heal, hope the families can heal, and hope maybe some civility can come of this horrible event. Let's hope the media can learn to tone down their sensationalism.
None of those kids should have been on TV or in any print or online publication.
None of them.
And none of them should be asked about what they saw, heard, lived through last week in a week, or when the school reopens, or a year from now, or five years from now. Or ever.
None of them.
I was once a member of the media. I know the old saying, "If It Bleeds It Leads," but not when your lead story is showing faces of children who just had their childhood destroyed. Children who saw their friends, teachers, and trusted authority figures gunned down in front of them. Children who had to hide in their classrooms and hide in their closets. That's just not responsible journalism.
Nobody but you cares if you're the first reporter on the scene, first with the story, first with the photos or video or eyewitness interviews. You're part of the problem. Sometimes people wanna go out big so people know their name. Want their stories told. Old as time.
One of the reasons I got out of reporting (and I did both radio news and worked for a daily newspaper as a reporter/photographer) was I hated constantly recording and reporting on the misery of others. I just couldn't do it anymore. I had offers when I made my career change to IT. Now, I help people. I like it. I still write, I still do photography. I like it as a creative outlet, not a career. Because I can pick and choose what I write about, what I photograph.
After viewing some of the news stories, reading the articles, and being sickened by the thoughtless slaughter of kids and teachers by a guy so far off his rocker his mother had warned a babysitter not to turn her back on him, I wonder how some of these reporters sleep at night ... like the guy who photographed the guy get killed by the subway, rather than try to help him out. Granted, that was the result of a fistfight, Sure, you can take that back to if she didn't have guns he wouldn't have had guns, but that's not a valid argument. You're not going to change one of the building blocks of our republic. You just won't. We need better education, better mental health education, treatment and getting rid of the stigma attached to mental illness. That's where we need focus.