Fear & Death! Fear & Death!

Yesterday’s post (And a Picture, Too), about the high school senior whose name and picture were included in her Charlotte Observer review of the movie, Fracture, generated a lot of conversation — especially for a Sunday.  The responses sat pretty much on opposite ends of the issue’s spectrum, initially reporting dismay at the news paper

…readers now have the girl’s name, face, area of residence, approximate age, and school district.

Also expressed, was dismay at all of the hysteria,

It seems to me that the raising of concern about publishing a name and a photo reveals not only a certain sense of unjustified paranoia, but also a real misdirection regarding the source of potential danger.

Given that this misdirection is so evident, one wonders why it would be perpetuated.

Safety is certainly a concern, but what truly concerns me is our desire to be afraid.  Where does that come from?  Why do news sources and politicians get so much mileage out of fear and death.

I saw it again in this month’s EdTech, a CDW-G sponsored magazine, that is actually quite a good publication.  But this month, the cover offers in bold print Cyber Predators, and features an elementary school child, sitting on a raft, using a laptop computer, being circled by sharks.  Fear & Death!

The story reports on two gruesome cases of girls who were murdered.  One met her killer in a chat room, and the other was reported to be active in MySpace.  These stories were directly followed by the sentence…

According to the U.S. Department of Justice, one in five children ages 10 to 17 has received unwanted sexual solicitations online.

Although cause for concern, the Justice Department report is somewhat less shocking with it is read in its entirety.  According to the same report, 16% of the solicitations came from females, 43% were younger than 18, 30% were between 18 and 25.

Again, this is a reason to be concerned and to teach safe practices when using the Internet — and it is quite a good article (Thwarting Cyber Predators) offering valuable tips.  But the image of one in five teenagers being stalked by sexual predators is far from substantiated by the actual statistics.  I look forward to every issue of EdTech and have written for the publication and will continue to if asked.  And although I respect and like their editor, I do not respect their portrayal of the dangers of Internet usage.

It’s all about a system that is floundering.  We’re looking for solid places to pull ourselves to or to push off of.  We’re looking for the new pavement on which we can get traction, and the best way, in my opinion is through these conversations.

What do you think?

Image Citation:
Babick, Betty. “Safety?.” Betty Babick’s Photostream. 28 Apr 2007. 30 Apr 2007 <http://flickr.com/photos/bettybabick/475834261/>.

Author: David Warlick

David Warlick has been an educator for the past 40+ years. He continues to do some writing, but is mostly seeking his next intersect between play, passion and purpose, dabbling in photography, drone videography and music production.