by Lianne Castelino, www.whereparentstalk.com
I am questioning, wondering and in a word, struggling. It is now a week since terror ripped through a running race, paralyzed a city and disturbed the world.
The dead have been buried. The injured recover slowly. The loved ones mourn forever.
The alleged perpetrators have been captured. Neighbourhoods are left reeling try to piece together the events and now the aftermath of the Boston Marathon explosions.
Just when I thought the worst was over, I turned the TV on (which I never do at an early hour) last Friday morning, only to see a play-by-play description of a city in lockdown and the police pursuit of two and then one alleged suspect.
I had turned the TV on to check the weather — which I also never do. However given the erratic winter/spring we've endured, I have no idea what to wear any more.
I understand all the justifications for why tv stations and other media felt compelled to place reporters' in (potential) harms way with sirens, flashing lights and and then eerie quiet behind them. I saw one of my former colleagues, herself a young parent, right in the middle of the madness, and thought to myself — yikes…brave.
Just because you can justify something, DOES NOT make it right. Goodness knows there are more spinmasters on the planet now than ever who can sell anyone on just about anything, if you give them the chance.
What hit home for me was a discussion that began in the car on Friday evening as I was driving home with five other people from a musical, no less. Among those in the car, were a 13, 11 and 9-year-old. Each had just expressed how much they enjoyed the show we had just seen — music, dancing, a great story line — a wonderful evening so far.
Then, the topic turned to Boston. I can't remember how it happened, cause I sure as heck would not be the one to start it.
I listened. I did not say much.
My stomach began to turn as I heard from each of these young people, some of whom belong to me, others who did not, about what they knew about Boston — the latest. They knew TOO MUCH in my opinion, for their age.
I am a traditionalist, always have been, always will be. Kids of a certain age just DO NOT need to know about terrorism, limbs flying, a teenager being pursued by every level of law enforcement, why an 8-year-old boy was killed and his family decimated by a series of explosions during a running event.
But here I was, listening to what these little people in our van were sharing.
I asked if they had talked about in school much that day. The answer was 'not really'. Still they knew so much. We can all guess from where and why.
I am still not past teaching JKs on up about lockdowns in schools for goodness sake. I better catch up fast.
What concerns me is how children process things. Just when we parents think they are not paying attention, they surprise us with facts, information and knowledge we thought they could not possibly have gained. Guess what, they likely are.
The other thing that bothers me to the core of my being is the excessive, rampant and irresponsible amount of factually incorrect, rumour, innuendo, dead wrong, misleading, speculative reporting and fear-mongering that that Boston Marathon explosions unleashed — on twitter, within various news organizations and elsewhere.
In their zeal to be the first, increase ratings, provide a public service, share important potentially life-saving information, many media outlets and fledgling twitter reporters made serious errors, many of them. This IS WRONG.
In recent years, I find myself telling my children not to always believe what they read. As these words exit my mouth, I am always surprised I am saying them. What else is one supposed to do though? You cannot believe everything you read or see for that matter. “Take it with a grain of salt”, I advise them, “Ask plenty of questions”.
In the immediate aftermath of Boston, I read of t at least one person being taken into custody, erroneously. There were likely plenty of other arrests that should never have happened, and that we will never hear about.
The alleged accused are now either dead or detained. Boston will slowly return to 'normal'. The headlines will belong to other stories soon. The damage will remain.
Do we ever really learn from these 'lessons', I wonder?
People, children, teens, adults, do not wake up and become murderers, terrorists, and purveyors of evil. It comes from somewhere.
If we as a society could only spend our time, effort and money focusing on the SYMPTOMS rather than the RESULTS, we may move the dial forward.
Sure, it's easy to train and employ more security and law enforcement officials. In fact, I would love to know the stats on the number of people employed in this field since 2011. Must be off the charts. And we remain obsessed with it.
We should be far more obsessed with building stronger families and stronger communities to hopefully prevent events like these from ever happening.