Why did it take these kids to raise their voices?
One thing about the survivors from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School that has struck many people is how articulate and appealing — made for TV, you might say — so many of them are.
Sad, isn’t it, the kids from Columbine weren’t better in front of a camera? Or that the first graders at Sandy Hook Elementary could do little more than sob as they were led away from their school?
I’m not being sarcastic. It is sad almost beyond my comprehension. But it is a sign of our time.
Fourteen of the 17 people killed at Douglas High were classmates of many of the students who have appeared on camera since the massacre. A few of those interviewed saw people die beside them.
Yet, almost without exception, they told their stories like pros. Then they moved on to lead what is becoming a nationwide campaign of teenagers demanding we adults do something about school violence.
Our hearts break every time children die violently. We pledge to take decisive action to prevent such tragedies. Then we don’t.
I’m not the only person to sense this time may be different because of the nature of the youngsters involved. They are the most effective advocates for reform — define that how you will — I can recall seeing and hearing.
Why? Were the children murdered in their school any less deserving of being mourned? Was the tragedy any greater? Was this particular massacre just one too many for us?
No. It’s because the kids from Parkland, Fla., are good in front of television cameras.
Unfortunately, they are being seized upon by some adults to pursue simplistic agendas. School killings won’t be prevented by any single approach.
It’s a complex thing, the type of problem our instant-gratification society doesn’t handle very well. We want to snap our fingers and, painlessly, make our troubles go away.
Let’s hope the Douglas High kids are good enough to make us take a realistic look this time, and make the hard choices needed to actually do something effective about school violence.
Or will even these well-spoken young people lose their appeal? Let’s pray not.
If the Parkland kids succeed — and again, I hope they do — we ought to reflect on why we responded to them, and not other young victims.
Might Caroline Previdi have been an effective advocate as a teenager? We’ll never know. She was 6 when she was murdered at Sandy Hook Elementary School.
Mike Myer is executive editor of The Intelligencer and Wheeling News Register.