by Lianne Castelino, www.whereparentstalk.com
It has been a while since I've blogged – time constraints mostly to blame, but the fire is raging in my belly today, so here we go.
There must have been a gigantic full moon hanging over the city which I inhabit this past weekend — I hope that gorgeous crescent shape makes a return tonight.
My family and I happen to live in the city that grabbed international headlines this past Saturday evening and not for anything good. The shooting at the Eaton Centre – a huge glass shopping mall in the middle of the largest city in Canada was a crime scene after a lone gunman opened fire during a crowded food court on Saturday evening.
1 dead. 7 injured.
City in shock. Families in mourning. Children scared. Police on alert. More innocence lost. Questions abound.
Brazen. Targetted. Frightening. Reckless. Cowardly.
And so the aftermath has begun. A massive manhunt is underway. Politicians weigh-in to calm a jittery population. The police dig in their heels. We will all, individually and collectively, search for answers, a fitting, rational response to the question WHY? And yet, the answer is just so darn simple — to me at least.
We will, no doubt throw piles of money at more security, better detection systems, bigger jails, and more police officers.
My question, whenever a crime of this stature, or something smaller, like what happened to my family over the weekend — is always the SAME. WHY DO WE INSIST ON ADDRESSING THE ACT AND NOT THE SYMPTOMS?
Can anyone tell me please? I'm all ears.
A day earlier, on Friday, I was out of the house with two of my children for a two-hour span, between 12pm-2pm. I came home to discover that our house had been broken in to. Every single drawer, closet and room ransacked. Stuff strewn everywhere. Wanton, idiotic, stupid. They took our passports and some jewellry. The tried to crowbar through our front door and failed (excellent lock, apprarently). They succeeded via the side door and bolted through and damaged the brand new back patio door.
It took the police 6 hours to get to our house — despite a 911 call. Our timing was bad. Friday the full moon was indeed in evidence as the wild and wet weather spawned flooding at a downtown Toronto train/subway station, caused power outages, road accidents and total mayhem. Cops were busy. They got to us eventually. We had to keep our 3 kids away from the 'scene' til we put every last item back in its rightful place. We told them what happened, but decided that at ages 14, 12 and 8 — they did not need to see the work of a #)$#(R#*&^.
“This is pretty typical,” said one of the investigating officers. Great, I thought. Brazen, Targetted. Frightening. Reckless.
Clearly we were being watched. What an eerie, unsettling, scary feeling. We've already spent a new heap on new locks. Staying ahead of the criminal element has a price tag.
No adult, male or female and no child, male or female is born violent. They are exposed to it in a multitude of ways. That exposure eventually turns into acceptance.
Parenting is central to this issue in my opinion. Any time a crime is committed, we are all to blame. Parents, in particular, should take this personally.
Modelling decent behaviour is an obligation, not a nice-to-have. If you can't take care of your children, give them to someone who can. If you have a child that you do not want, find a loving home for them — give them a chance. If you see a child struggling, extend a warm hand of support and comfort or find someone who will.
It takes a village to raise a child. We all have a responsiblity.
Kids are not born into gangs. Youth are not born into criminal behaviour. Adults are not born into toting guns in busy shopping malls. These are all learned behaviours, in my opinion.
If we could start spending a more time taking our roles as parents seriously —- perhaps things would be different. If we could spend more time with our children and less time commuting to that all important job that we think we need to pay for that massive house that we barely see because we are commuting forever — perhaps things would be different. If we could take ownership of our communities, as vital, vibrant, important engines that play a critical role in our broader society — perhaps things would be different. If we could let our kids play more, be alone less, communicate openly, hide stuff less frequently — perhaps things could be different. If we could demonstrate a laser-like focus on priorities like family — perhaps things could be different.
These types of crimes call all of our actions into question — and call us all to action.