Reaction to violence
I had been in meetings all day at the CWLA conference in Washington, D.C. when I got word from a colleague from Massachusetts that there had been a bombing at the Boston Marathon. I immediately became concerned because I knew my niece and her husband, who had run the marathon, were there. I called my niece and was reassured that they were safe though disturbed by the incident and grateful that they had managed to escape the melee. Such random violence is an increasingly common occurrence in our society. The victims of such heinous acts are innocent bystanders going about their lives, hoping the odds are in their favor that they will not be stricken.
This morning on the final day of the annual CWLA conference I sat in on a listening session addressing the threats to children in such a violent culture and how we, as caregivers, can help to address their needs. The sad fact is that 60% of all children in the United States are exposed to violence. Violence seems to have become pervasive. In the light of the Newtown tragedy and the Boston Marathon bombing, many are suggesting that the solution to such unspeakable acts is greater vigilance and capacity to defend ourselves.
The instinct to protect and defend is not the solution, but rather an understandable initial reaction to a threat. The solution is more complicated and requires a great deal of thought and effort for us to reverse what is a pervasive violent culture.
The impact of such violence is made painfully clear because of notorious acts. However, every day in this country 29 children or youth under the age of 18 die un-necessarily. They die because they are victims of violence, abuse or neglect, some taking their own lives because they consider death preferable to the tragic lives they endure.
Solutions should go beyond arming ourselves, fortifying our homes, and resorting to suspicion. Our ultimate response is to resist a bunker mentality in favor of a resolve to make a difference. While many instinctively ran from the chaos at the Boston Marathon blast, some were drawn into the mayhem and courageously responded to the injured risking their own well-being to tend to those who had been affected by the bombing. Their instinctive response to care is a great example of how violence is ultimately thwarted. We should honor, value, and share stories of courageous people in the midst of tragedy rather than overwhelmingly highlight the tragedies and perpetrators.
Our prayers are with the individuals and families affected by this recent violence.