10/05/06 — Remembering: Violence we have seen can help us stop future tragedies

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Remembering: Violence we have seen can help us stop future tragedies

Few of us probably have forgotten the day that two high school students took guns into Columbine High School in Colorado and opened fire on their classmates in a library.

We were shocked then, surprised that something this horrible could happen in a school and that teenagers were behind it.

Many families watched the news footage with horror as the death toll rose. And we were all thankful that it was not in our community, not our children.

Now, years later, we are watching another community go through the same heartbreak. And although the incident in Pennsylvania had a much more tragic end, it is not the only news of this kind we have heard over the last few weeks and months. There have been several other lost lives and scary near-misses involving children, violence and schools.

When a tragedy like this occurs, we look for an explanation — a place to lay the blame. For years, it has been violent video games and the disintegration of moral character as evidenced by the bawdy and aggressive nature of television and movies.

And now, we have added the availability of stuff children really shouldn’t see on the internet to the mix as we try to pinpoint just what is causing this change.

And while that is not the only reason that children are picking up guns and sick adults are turning their own anger into violence against children, the casual way the world looks at violence and death really is a contributing factor.

We have let our standards slip — and now we have a world where children watch shows that depict a hero who escapes a hailstorm of bullets without a scratch and a victim survives a violent attack in a 30-minute episode.

Conflict and violence are much more a part of our world these days — and that has, perhaps, stolen, too, a little bit of our innocence.

We hear the news of school shootings and watch the terror that unfolds these days with as much sadness and empathy, but without as much surprise. We have already lived through so many stories like these, they don’t catch us off-guard anymore.

But perhaps we can use this knowledge to our advantage. Maybe we can stop a similar tragedy from happening in our own back yard.

We can’t bring back the children we have already lost from these tragedies, but perhaps, if we work at it, we can do a better job of protecting our own community from the heartbreak others have suffered.

It would be a fitting tribute to these young people whose lives have been cut short to do everything in our power to make sure no other child suffers a similar fate.

Published in Editorials on October 5, 2006 11:01 AM