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17 December 2012

Victims of Connecticut shooting need support, not scrutiny

Like much of the nation, I sat glued to my television, watching the horrifying images and details from the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting unfold in front of my eyes.

The images were tragic, and each detail that was uncovered about the shooting seemed more haunting than the last. I cried for the victims, for the loss of innocent lives – 20 young children between the ages of 6 and 7 taken from this world, and hundreds more affected.

As someone who grew up just a few minutes away from Newtown, I felt anxiety over the uncertainty of whether or not all of my family and friends were safe.

Then, midway through the news coverage, something appalling happened. A Fox News Anchor found one of the children from the kindergarten class and stuck a camera in her face, asking her about how the event made her feel.

I shut off the television. I felt dirty for having watched it.

It seems, as a nation, we have become too ingrained in the media cycle. We expect every angle of every news story available to us instantly, and we immediately thereafter begin the process of dissecting and adding our opinions to every last aspect of the story.

We have the tendency of politicizing every event in our country.

If you eat Chick-Fil-A, then you’re against gay rights. If you supported Mitt Romney, then you are an elitist. Everything has a spin on it now.

Don’t believe me? Log onto Facebook and read some statuses about the Connecticut tragedy. I did. Some were about gun control, and how none of this could happen if there weren’t any guns. Others said that if everybody carried guns this could’ve been prevented. I even read one that said that this tragedy pales in comparison to the amount of children lost each day to abortion, and that Christ could make this all better.

So let this be an open letter to anyone looking to put a spin on these events: Don’t. Please, for the love of all things human, just don’t say anything. Don’t politicize this unspeakable tragedy. This isn’t about the need for more guns or less guns or how finding Christ will save us all or anything like that.

The story here is about the families, and how we – as a nation – can rally to help support them in the wake of these unthinkable horrors. They need our help, not our social media opinions. Their strength and courage in getting through this dark time will be what enables change and progress.

Hopefully, in time and with careful observation, we will be able to develop some quantitative measures to help study the psychology and mentality of the people who commit such atrocities so that we might take proactive measures to preventing the events from occurring again.

It seems that all of these stories come back to the mental health of those who commit the atrocities, and with a national commitment to improving the understanding mental health issues, we will get there. But right now, we need to focus on the victims. They need our help.

So put away the cameras, and step away from the keyboard. They need your support, not your opinions.

To help the families affected, please send donations to The Sandy Hook School Support Fund at:

Sandy Hook School Support Fund

Newtown Savings Bank
39 Main Street, Newtown CT 06470

Robert Pursell is a senior majoring in journalism.