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One Moment, Please... In the aftermath of Sandy Hook

Fri, Dec 13th, 2013
Posted in All Commentary

Just one year ago, on December 14, 2012, Sandy Hook Elementary School became a crime scene that claimed the lives of 20 elementary-school-aged children and six adult staff members of the school.

These types of tragedies, while fading in our memories over time, ultimately become a historical reference that changes our perception of threats, risk and security. Just like when 9/11 happened, these events expose our vulnerabilities and rattle the foundation of our securities.

Have you flown on a plane lately? Just think of the boarding process pre-9/11 compared to the process of today. And, while schools have established greater security measures, I’m sure there are many more changes yet to come.

Sandy Hook 911 Calls

The Associated Press utilized the Freedom of Information Act to push for the release of the 911 dispatch recordings from teachers, a secretary and a janitor working at Sandy Hook Elementary School while shooter Adam Lanza made his way through the school. As anyone can imagine, listening to these recordings full of despair can only bring back haunting memories of that gloomy day in American history. Why anyone would want to listen to these recordings is beyond me.

And, as much as it bothered all of us who were only watching from afar, just imagine what the family members of those victims feel like knowing that these recordings are being released to the media and the public via a court order. While Judge Eliot Prescott ordered for the release of the recordings (according to because he was afraid that holding them back would “fuel speculation about and undermine confidence in our law enforcement officials,” I still question the value of making this information public.

It brings to light our appetite for too much information. Sometimes I question our moral compass as a society for the videos, photos and articles that are shared in the name of journalism. Do we feast on sensationalism?


Working in the media industry for more than 20 years, I’ve had my share of interactions with national media that swoops into story opportunities and turns them into a three-ring circus.

But, really I question whether the sensationalism that captures our attention for 15 seconds of fame is driven by us or the media. Does the media, and more so national media, target content that drives our emotions to create awe-filled conversation and sometimes even disgust just to gain viewership? Or, is it the overwhelmed information consumer that is so desensitized by commonplace stories, that we need a jolt of stunning news to grab our attention?

Unfortunately, murder, sex and violence in the headlines does sell, but is that what we really want? Apparently, the majority of media outlets think so. And, if we feed off of this, then I guess we are just as much a contributor to the information epidemic.

Closer to home

This past week, Fillmore Central faculty and students participated in an unexpected lock-down drill. Even the teachers were unaware that a lock-down drill was going to be a part of their day. Lock-down drills have become a common training exercise at schools throughout America, so this drill at the Fillmore Central Schools facilities is the norm.

Addressing security risks, and establishing policies and procedures is one thing. But, how do we strike a balance between providing a secure learning environment without creating a sense of fear in our children?

One year later, we still have much to ponder. How do we explain the reasons for school lock-downs to our children? How do we explain to our children what happened in the tragedy surrounding Sandy Hook Elementary School?

With tragedies like 9/11 and the Sandy Hook Elementary School shootings, we are often left with more questions than answers. Processes are easy to administer. It’s the emotional aftermath that takes its toll.

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