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The Incident At Columbine And The Media's Effect On Children

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As our children return to the nation's schools over the next few weeks, I am increasingly concerned that some in the media may exaggerate or overdramatize the issue of school violence at the expense of the best interests of students, teachers and parents. Columbine High School, which had to endure its own searing moment of national attention several months ago, is already under a new media siege as the young people in Littleton, Colo., prepare to go back to school tomorrow.
Clearly, the tragedy at Columbine and the other multiple shootings in our schools over the past two years are newsworthy and deserve our full attention. But as young people prepare to go back to school filled with the excitement of a new year, do they really need to see endlessly repeated images of past tragedies that remain extraordinarily rare in our schools?
The 24-hour news channels, the emergence of online media and increased competition among various media outlets can feed this frenzy to replay searing images at the expense of the victims and communities still struggling to rebuild their lives. As a parent and grandparent, I am as troubled as anyone over the senseless tragedies that have occurred in schools over the past two years, and I fully understand the gravity and attention these scenes deserve. However, it does little but instill unwarranted fear in parents and students when such graphic stories are repeated over and over despite the telling fact that schools remain one of the safest places for our children to be.
I encourage and respectfully ask the media to allow the young people who will go back to school at Columbine High and across America to do so with the hope of a new school year rather than the fear of last spring. The Littleton community has been working hard to knit itself together, just as school systems around the country have been working to prevent future tragedies. I urge the media to respect these efforts to help children get the education they deserve. America's schools can always be made safer,and the tragedies of the past two years have created a new level of vigilance in every school district in America. This is no time to rest easy, and the media have every right to report on what schools are doing and not doing to safeguard their students.<...

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