Wednesday, August 29, 2012

New York: Analysis--Street Shootings Must Be Discussed So Our Children Can Learn How to Survive

It is sometimes useful to give unpleasant events that result in injuries and loss of life some time to be digested, as "heat-of-the-moment" reactions can often prove to be  emotional and even invalid.

Let us rewind time back a couple of weeks when New York City police confronted a knife-wielding man in Times Square and then shot him to death a few blocks away, as witnesses and tourists alike followed along and snapped photos.

Shortly thereafter a gunman with a workplace grudge shot and killed a former co-worker outside the Empire State Building, and then was killed himself by police in a burst of bullets that left at least nine bystanders wounded, some apparently as a result of police rounds.

Since those events dominated global headlines, the fact is that New York City is still the safest large city in the US and will continue to be.

What many of us often forget is that violence is, unfortunately, a byproduct of the human experience, regardless where on Earth it occurs. Thus, it is better for us to reckon with this reality rather than simply putting our heads into the sand.

All the money on Earth will never stop crime or terrorist acts from occurring. Just as the billions spent on combating terrorism after the events of 9/11 will never stop terrorism.

Unfortunately, many media organizations aggressively want to know "why" a terrible act occurred. There may often be an explanation, a motive or a reason as to why humans act in the way they do, but very often such crimes will continue to occur in the future simply because violent acts are a common thread in all societies.

Yet, answering the "why" will never prevent violent acts from continuing to occur.

From my own experience, I can attest that witnessing violent acts is unpleasant and unsettling. Some acts will never be erased from our memory, just as those who witnessed the events of 9/11 will never be the same.

To conclude that two violent acts in the New York City in a matter of days does not render New York City any more violent and dangerous than other cities around the world. One merely has to review my 1,300+ postings to validate that statement.

When lethal force must be used by law enforcement agencies, police procedures will be reviewed and improved on so that innocent lives are not put in jeopardy.

If there is any lesson to be learned from random violent acts, it is that we must educate our children that violence is a part of life and that by example we must show them how to safeguard themselves and others when violence occurs during their lifetime, as it will.

What is most extraordinary from reviewing the two New York City shootings is that the majority of bystanders were far more preoccupied with taking photos of the events as they unfolded, rather than seeking cover and concealment.

It is far more important to teach our children and young adults how to differentiate between cover and concealment than to look at a violent event as a "photo-op."

Cover, such as a concrete wall, is a physical object that we can get behind that will protect us from gunshots or a physical attack. Concealment, conversely, in the form of a solid wooden door, may protect us from being seen by assailants, but it will NOT protect us from being hit by bullets.

Fortunately, the young of all ages and nationalities are resilient. We must give them more credit for being so. We must also be honest with them by educating them how to protect themselves and others during a violent event.

We are doing our children no favors by shielding them from reality. Only by showing them how to survive can they actually do so.