This is my platform, so I choose today to take it a different direction. What I want to say deserves more than a one-liner on Facebook.
Your children are no longer allowed to make stupid, criminal mistakes and move on with their lives after they turn 18.
It has been a long-standing policy in television news not to name or otherwise identify juveniles who are accused of a crime. It is not illegal to show them or name them, but a matter of ethics not to.
The assumption being that children are entitled to privacy, are entitled to make horrible mistakes and not be held accountable for them by the public in their adulthood unless they choose to disclose it.
Now, we work in a newsroom divided. It is a business of blurred lines. There are those of us who believe the “rules” of covering crimes where perps are minors were protocol for a reason. There are the others who think if you’re “old enough to know better” then we can blast your ugly baby-faced mugshot (or even Facebook profile pic) for the world to see.
The first time I remember there being any debate about whether to identify a juvenile who committed a serious crime was while covering Lionel Tate.
He was 12 years old when he murdered a 6 year old girl in Broward County.
He was the youngest person in modern American history to be sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole.
The justification for showing and naming Tate was that he was being charged as an adult.
That became the bar. The S.O.P.
Charged as an adult? We name you. You’re an adult according to the law now.
Sometime during the past few years, opinions started to shift in the newsroom. People started suggesting that any child who committed a crime as heinous as murder or rape could be identified.
I say “child” because you can tell where I stand on the issue. If you’re young enough to be in foster care, young enough to be required to have a guardian, young enough to not even be allowed to buy a pack of smokes… you are a child.
But, now when you kill someone you are “old enough to know better.”
Now begins the slippery slope. People are suggesting naming and showing juveniles charged with carjacking. “It was with a gun!”
I understand the frustration. It really is starting to seem like the thugs are getting younger, the crimes getting more violent.
Is showing their mugshot a deterrent? Not at all.
Is it even our responsibility to attempt to deter crime? That’s what the justice system is supposed to be for.
Is showing their mugshot informative? Not in the least.
Is showing their mugshot going to help the community? If they’re a violent criminal on the loose, perhaps. But, the cases I am referring to are generally not a “wanted murderer on the lam.”
They are children. Horrible children who will become horrible adults. Thank God they were arrested, will be charged and begin the endless cycle of arrest and release, arrest and release.
Or maybe, just maybe… they will someday realize the error of their ways and mature into normal well-adjusted people. People embarrassed by their past. People who want to contribute to society. People who don’t want it to be so easy to find their mugshot online from an arrest when they were 13 with a simple search.
I read an article about a 15-year-old girl who was convicted of smothering her four-year-old half-sister. A newspaper printed her name. The conviction was overturned and THEN they decided not to name her “because of her age.”
Too little. Too late.
I also read an article recently about an aspiring welder who started a life of crime when he was in sixth grade. During his time behind bars he ended up with tats on his face. Barely in his 20’s he went to extremes to make his mistakes less visible.
We can’t keep kids from committing horrible crimes. But, we also don’t have to leave an indelible mark that could have a shelf life even longer than a face tattoo.
You lose your rights when you break the law. But, you don’t stop being a child. That’s my view. All opinions welcome.
My husband was gone before dawn, heading out of town for work.
It’s kind of like waking up to realize you’re on a bus with a bomb about to detonate and you have ONLY 45 MINUTES TO SAVE EVERYONE ONBOARD.
After a speed-shower, I start by trying to dress my son who spends the next ten minutes fake crying and wiggling away from me half-naked.
I move on to my daughter, ignoring my son whining in the background for “daddy.”
She immediately starts to battle me over whether she can keep on her pink knee-high socks that she slept in, then arguing that pink LEGGINGS are NOT the same as TIGHTS and she wants the TIGHTS.
I go along with it.
Downstairs they both stoop down to pet our dog Frankie, who they hate 98% of the time.
Huck starts yelling at Alma, “MY DOG, MY DOG!”
I say, “He’s your dog, my dog, Alma’s dog, EVERYBODY’S DOG!!”
No makeup, no breakfast… I pour Golden Grahams into a couple of bowls for the kids and shove them out the front door.
In the car, my daughter reaches up to touch her headband and shrieks in horror.
“This isn’t the one with the flower!! This is Hello Kitty!! I wanted the one with the flower!!!”
She is literally hysterical.
I tell her there is no time to go back inside. I have buckled them both in. I can’t unload them and drag them inside because she suddenly despises Hello Kitty.
So, I tell her to stop crying, back out of the driveway and whip off down the road to try and reach daycare the second they open the doors. (they open at 7am, my work day starts at 7:30am… for every minute past 7am traffic increases exponentially by at least 5 minutes. I hate word problems, but you get it.)
As I peel out, I hear a strange scraping noise and the sound of plastic hitting pavement.
I watch in my rear view mirror as my daughter’s plastic bowl of cereal bounces down the road.
I left it on the roof of the car.
So, then she realizes the cereal is NOT in her lap and starts screaming about that.
I scream for Huck to share with her. He meekly hands her a single Golden Graham and she shouts through sobs, “I want my own bowl!”
I get her to be quiet in time for arriving at daycare moments later.
Rush them inside, rush back out, hop in the car, speed off only to be stopped immediately by dozens of drivers turning onto the next street to take their kids to high school.
I end up behind a school bus on Hillsborough Avenue that stops to pick up kids at least 6 times. Since when are bus stops lined up alongside a major thoroughfare??
I arrive at work ridiculously late.
Gas station shooting, students stabbed at school, Reeva Steenkamp’s bloodied head being compared to a watermelon.
Before I have even written a tease, I am already getting shit for the video that it will show. It’s not written. No instructions for editors. No video chosen. Yet, someone is already complaining.
Then it’s “You wrote the cars recalled were ‘produced.’ Don’t you mean manufactured?”
(AP wires said ‘produced’)
“You say the ‘mystery man.’ If the identity is a mystery, how do you know it’s a man?”
(the MAN went to the school to drop off the wallet but did not reveal his name)
“Is Obama presiding over the memorial service at Fort Hood?”
(No, it’s going to be someone even bigger! George Carlin’s ghost!)
I think I forgot to put on deodorant this morning.
If I die in some weird car wreck today, I am wearing Wonder Woman underwear.
I better be careful today or the ME will be joking about my stinky body and humiliating underthings.
And people wonder why I find it completely reasonable to have a glass or two of wine or a couple beers after work. Harumph.
(Warning: If you read my posts to have a chuckle or bond over the fact that little kids suck, you may want to skip this one.)
Ever find yourself trying to hide the tears streaming down your face at work because you’re overwhelmed by all of the tragedy in the world?
But, that probably has something to do with the fact that my job is reading and writing about all of the tragedy in the world.
Being a news producer, I try very hard to make stories more meaningful. When I am tasked with writing a dinky 45 second story on an art gallery and scholarship program in honor of two teens murdered 3 years ago by their own mother, I put real effort into it.
I find good pictures of the victims, check out their father’s Facebook page… and then I cry.
Because the two teenagers were once babies.
Because this is what their father wrote on their birthdays:
On your 16th birthday, I should be sharing some football and Krispy Kremes with you and laughing at your jokes until our stomachs hurt. Instead I find myself struggling to find adequate words to express the joy you continue to bring to me and to the lives of so many. I am so proud to be your Daddio. I miss you more with each passing day.
Love you forever …+1 with Beau Schenecker and Calyx Schenecker
Calyx, missing you is the hardest part. Celebrating you is the easy part. So on the eve of your 19th birthday, I join thousands who rejoice in having your presence in their lives. From your first day on this Earth, you set out to make the world a better place…Oh my, how you have greatly exceeded expectations! I love you forever + 1, Daddio with Calyx Schenecker and Beau Schenecker
Then, I move on from that story to a 20 second update on the Washington mudslides.
We’ve been updating the death toll for weeks. There’s only so many ways to talk about the search for the missing.
But, they named the latest victim.
I could leave it at that.
Or, I could go look up more information about him and find his wife’s Facebook page.
Their 4 year old son was rescued by helicopter, the mud so thick it ripped his pants off as they hoisted him to safety.
Their 2 year old daughter is still missing and presumed dead.
Their other two children are confirmed dead.
This is a woman who has lost her husband and three children and yet she still refers to the rescue of her son as a miracle.
Time to take a break and check in on my Facebook feed… where I get updates on a friend of a friend’s daughter who has been diagnosed with a brain tumor.
She posts pictures like this and somehow remains upbeat. Her strength blows my effing mind.
Pre-hydration went well-much better than last time! First chemo was started about an hour ago and the second will be going up soon. Chloe didn’t want to nap earlier so, of course, when the nurses started her Benadryl at 5:15 to pre-medicate her she passed out cold. It may be a very long night or very early morning!
I try to keep my posts upbeat, sarcastic and brutally honest.
Some days I can’t keep up the charade.
Some days are just heartbreaking.
The only benefit of spending my days writing and reading about such heart wrenching, soul crushing things is that I love my kids more than you do.
Kidding, of course.
But, it does put things in healthy (or unhealthy) perspective.
It is the reason why every single stupid-cute thing my kids do makes me worship the ground they walk on.
It’s why I post pictures of them obsessively and daydream about being a stay-at-home-mom.
I want to spend every second loving my children, because you never know when you could end up being the story someone is hunting for more details about to make it more “meaningful.”
Oh, and one more thing.
Damn you Viral Nova for being a perpetual buzz kill.
Maybe this was just one long excuse for why I’m not gonna workout today. Who can go to the gym after that?