Interviewing Child Survivors In Newtown, Connecticut Was Seriously Inappropriate

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shutterstock_98162453I’m a mother with an opinion who started writing about her life. Eventually, I fell into writing about other people’s lives. I cover news for this site which requires me to insert my opinion into any issue I think will be interesting to our readers. I’m a part of the “media machine” now. I get that the media asks the questions and gets the answers that the public wants. So forgive me for getting on my high-horse now, but I can’t believe all of those reporters were interviewing child survivors in Newtown, Connecticut yesterday. On what planet is that acceptable? From The Atlantic:

“… interviewing children following events like these can increase emotional and psychological damage later on. “The first 24 hours after witnessing an event such as the Columbine shooting is a time when children need to be with people who love and support them,” said child psychology Donna Gaffney, referring to incidents like Columbine. “Children who are witnesses to violent events or tragic occurrences are victims in their own right. They may not be the direct recipients but as witnesses they are profoundly affected.” The main piece of advice Gaffney has for reporters is: Don’t try to interview a child who has witnessed injury or death. If that doesn’t resonate, you can always refer back to the following golden rule: Do unto other people’s kids as you would have them do unto your kids.”

Honestly, I was and still am a bundle of raw emotion after yesterday’s events – so I admittedly may be over-reacting. But when I saw those children being interviewed after the horrific ordeal that they had just been through, I wanted to jump through the screen and tackle the reporters. What would ever make you think that you should approach a child who has just emerged from a situation like that one?

NBC and CNN have been criticized for their repeated coverage of these interviews. Wolf Blitzer, CNN reporter, claims that the network is “very sensitive” to families in these situations and that the reporters always ask the parents for permission. Honestly, that doesn’t make me feel any better. These parents are traumatized themselves. They shouldn’t even be expected to make decisions at a time like that.

I hope the scrutiny that reporters received over this issue will force them to approach children with more of a measure of sensitivity in the future. And by that I mean – leave the poor kids alone, jerks.

(photo: wellphoto/