Is the School Safe?

A tragic event happened at Dylan’s school last week: two males sexually assaulted a 14-year-old girl in the boys’ bathroom. This horrific event could have happened anywhere, since there are criminals wherever there are people. But it happened during school hours, at MY son’s school.

Unfortunately, the news media appeared the next day.

But the “news” didn’t stop. The two males happened to be illegal immigrants, so Dylan’s school became a platform for a national stance against immigration. Then, in case that wasn’t sufficient to cause uproar, the media broadcasted that our school was receiving threatening phone calls – people (lovely people) threatening to shoot all the immigrants in the school.

During a week of media glory, the school responded with added police protection, calming statements and letters, a huge meeting to address parents’ concerns, visits by the superintendent of schools, and – I’m sure – many, many staff meetings: What can we do to make sure this doesn’t happen again?

There’s nothing they can do. There’s a full-time security presence and 105 security cameras installed throughout the school. It’s the smallest school in the county. We just can’t be everywhere, all the time.

Still, the parents’ email list caught fire. Everyone panicked. Is the school safe? How can we send our kids there? Why isn’t the principal doing more? Why didn’t they warn us about the threatening phone calls? What if there’s a bomb?

One parent said, to explain why she isn’t sending her son to school: The “high school appears to be under siege.”

It APPEARS that way.

This appearance was not caused by a sexual assault, or by the school itself. This appearance is completely thanks to the media. They have taken what once was a very strong, safe school, and turned it into a media circus. They broadcast the horrors of one event, discredited the safety of our school, turned us into an immigration platform and then announced that our school is being attacked.

And once the media latched on, so did the parents.

The assault could have happened at any other school, or a grocery store, or a movie theater, or any number of places where people are. People did this – two very unkind people. And people are everywhere.

But if the media has shown us nothing in the last several years, it’s that we have to be very, very, afraid. They focus only on bad news: death, destruction, crime. Fifty years ago, the media did stories about how much money was raised by a local car wash to help a needy family. Now the car wash is forgotten – and the needy family is spotlighted.

Bad things happen. It is a horrible fact of life. But the news isn’t broadcasting anything good, and the media absolutely glorifies crime. This is not reality! This is an appearance that the media creates to get higher ratings.

I’ve been to the high school. My son’s school is one of the absolute best schools in the area. It is filled with teenagers, so it can’t be perfect. But we have caring, vigilant staff. And right now, they are doing everything they can – even though perfection is impossible.

But FEAR gets ratings. That doesn’t mean we have to play into it, to hide out until the “danger” is gone. The danger was always there – will always be there, as long as there are people. The media just spotlights it.

If we tune out the media – even social media – we might see what’s really happening. We are all – passively and/or passionately – doing the absolute best we can.

4 Comments

  1. Tracey Miller says:

    Well-stated piece, Kirsten!

  2. Kirsten says:

    They are guilty. Guilty, guilty, guilty. They have the sworn statement, and plenty of evidence. But everyone has a right to a fair trial.

  3. Janet Moore says:

    I’m not even convinced the two kids accused of the rape are guilty. I heard one of their lawyers on the radio, & it’s possible it’s not what it seems. I can’t dismiss the media. That’s what Trump wants to do.

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