Father of Parkland victim: The politicization and media-frenzy 'eclipsed the real, personal needs of the survivors'

Ryan Petty lost his daughter Alaina in the Parkland shooting last February. Wednesday, Petty wrote a piece for USA Today arguing that the politicized reaction to the shooting resulted in a lot of students who weren’t given time to grieve and, as a result, many are still be suffering from the trauma:

Over the course of just one week in March, two more  MSD students died, this time by suicide, adding to the horror of this senseless and preventable tragedy. Shortly after the Parkland suicides,  the father of one of the 20 first-graders killed in the 2012 shooting in Newtown, Connecticut, took his own life as well.

In the days immediately following the Parkland shooting, before the families of the victims had processed the magnitude of their loss, a cadre of vocal students, fueled by the news media frenzy, focused on political action. They marched, peddling a bromidic elixir of political prescriptions.

While the sense of political urgency from students was understandable and in some ways admirable, it came at the cost of a focus on the health and healing — for the families of the victims, students, teachers and the community at large….

The politicization and media-frenzied response to the murders overwhelmed and eclipsed the real, personal needs of the survivors and their loved ones. To be blunt, the cacophony of voices on gun control drowned out and suppressed a needed conversation on the mental health needs at the school and in the community. For that failure, our community is paying a heavy price.

Petty directs readers to a piece written by Marjory Stoneman Douglas teacher Kimberly Krawczyk which was published last month. Krawczyk said that while the media and the school district was casting blame at the NRA, no one competent was helping the traumatized kids:

CNN just won the Cronkite Award for its town hall on the Parkland shooting and gun control. If it had instead sent a camera crew into the school, I think Sydney Aiello and Calvin Desir might still be with us.

One look at the school’s media center in the weeks after the massacre would have revealed that the “care” provided by the Broward County School District was only reinforcing the trauma.

The school district filled the room with elementary school counselors who had no background in trauma counseling and told students to seek help there if they wanted. The school district did not solicit the advice of mental health experts or implement a basic standard of care. There weren’t even privacy curtains. If a student tried to talk but broke down and cried, everyone could see.

CNN didn’t get that story or if they did no one ever heard about it. But they made sure everyone heard about David Hogg and Emma Gonzalez the other teen gun control advocates they propped up for months. Krawczyk continued:

The only things the school district did effectively after the tragedy was, as our local newspaper showed, “hide, spin, deny and threaten.” School district leaders falsely labeled facts about what went wrong as “fake news” and put all the blame on the National Rifle Association.

It made for such a nice, simple story: They did this, but the kids will win.

But Parkland should go down in history as a case study in local incompetence aided and abetted by national partisan-driven coverage. It seemed like everyone — from the Grammys to ESPN — was celebrating how strong our students were. But no one stopped to ask if they were actually all right.

The school district and the Sheriff’s Office were offered a convenient villain and a way to claim some kind of moral victory (by attacking the NRA) and they took it. It’s pathetic but understandable when the only other option was to admit they were partly responsible. It’s also not hard to see why the national media went along with this. They are mostly left-wing partisans who seize upon stories that appeal to left-wing partisans. Putting the Parkland kids on TV every day made sense ideologically and was good business as well. CNN gave its audience what it wanted in the form of that garbage town hall event. Excuse me, I meant to say that award-winning garbage town hall event.