Stop putting traumatized teenagers on television

When a school shooting survivor rails against the National Rifle Association or gun laws, no thinking and feeling person will debate them. As with any victim of trauma, we try to support and affirm them, let them know we are on their team. But, obviously, that is not an approach to addressing school shootings that can possibly work. In fact, hard debates have to be had. Those debates cannot involve children who will hear the screams of murdered classmates in their minds for years to come.

On Wednesday, CNN will air a town hall with kids who survived the massacre. Have they consulted with mental health experts about whether this is a positive way for young survivors to grapple with their grief? Have they taken into account the possibility that they are setting these kids up for a massive and devastating fall when the change they all know in their hearts they are about to create fails to occur?

Will they be honest with them? Will they look these young people in the eyes and tell them it is very unlikely they will succeed, that in fact they will almost certainly not succeed? Or will they play upon the naïve and wonderful hope of children that all things are possible? Will they stoke a fire of optimism that a cruel world will quickly extinguish, leaving ashes in its wake?

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