Monday, January 7, 2013

The Kids Are Alright

Someone called in an anonymous bomb threat to Jack's elementary school this morning. You can read about it HERE. The children were evacuated from the school and moved to parking lot of Whole Foods across the street. The parents were notified by telephone of the situation and informed to pick up the children for the day. I was still near campus getting my coffee, so I hung out while the school was deciding what to do. It turned out to be a hoax. The all-clear was given after a three-hour intensive search, but all the children had been collected by then, so class was cancelled for the day.

I wrote an update on my Facebook page informing my friends and family that we were safe... And then the cynics came out. "This used to happen to us all the time at my school", "It's just some 'mental' trying to get attention". And, normally, I would agree with them (maybe not using the term "mental").

However, not when it's your kid.

R D White Elementary did an amazing job evacuating 800 students and staff. My hat is off to them. What disturbed me, however, were the number of news cameras around the parking lot. I'll come back to that.

The cynic in me wants to agree that this is no big deal. I want to believe that this happens all the time without credible evidence. I remember bomb threats from when I was a kid, and they weren't.

Planes were hijacked all the time in the 70s. They flew to Cuba and everyone went home. Until that one time they didn't on Sept 11th..

People make threats against schools all the time. The police are called and everyone goes back to class. Until some young man brings a machine gun (or whatever it was) and mows down a first grade classroom on Dec 14th.

So, we have a paradox. Should we be extra sensitive and careful regarding these threats now, or should we ignore them, hoping they don't draw attention and simply go away. I will tell you, honestly, I prefer the former, since it was my KID.

The media coverage may have been a tad excessive, granted, but the school reaction was perfect. Thank you, R D White Elementary and Glendale Unified School District for handling it the way you did.  Thank you for taking every precaution necessary to keep our kids safe.

ABC7, however, has some explaining to do. Reporter John Hartung and his cameraman were interviewing some some school officials and parents. This is newsworthy. But then they jumped at the chance to interview a 5 year-old that was leaving with her mother. I interrupted the interview by asking them not to interview 5 year-olds. I was told to not tell them how to do their jobs (a great answer). I told them a scared or nervous five-year old isn't going to give them any information the school officials or police or even parents hadn't already. The cameraman, told me I'm not the kid's parent and to leave them alone.

So, I did my best to stand in front of the camera and ruin the shot. They hated me. They told me where I could go.  The cameraman put a hand on my shoulder to push me out of the way, but thought twice and didn't. They moved on to interview a different parent and I crossed the police line to collect my son.

I shouldn't have made a big deal out of this. I accept that I was being an asshole. But, on behalf of all parents in the world, for fuck's sake, leave a 5 year-old out of this. It's a real douchebag move to get the ""story" from a 5 year-old and then claim "I'm just doing my job".

I am parent of a child at this elementary school. I am an active voice in my community. I am an advocate for the protection of children everywhere, so, John Hartung, I'm just doing my job too.

Interviewing a 5 year-old in a sensitive, frightened, overhyped, nervous, uninformed situation is simply wrong.   If you truly are "just doing your job"... then your job sucks.

*** Post note ***

I watched the ABC7 noontime broadcast, and none of the interviews with children were used. Thank you.

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