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'A Cheap Journalistic Trick'



I was troubled by your recent cover page showing girls, heads bowed, under the title "'We're Scared'" (March 22). A caption that casts these girls as meek, mild, frightened, helpless — passive lambs to the (not always proverbial) slaughter.

Yet these girls, and the many others that stood with them, were part of a proactive youth-led initiative against gun violence in schools. Not so meek, not so mild. They organized, mobilized and took to the streets. Their heads were bowed in honor of those killed in Florida.

To re-cast that solemn (and strong and proactive) moment under the banner "We're scared" seemed a cheap journalistic trick. A visual come-on to the predator set and a way to undercut these girls at exactly the moment that they are actively standing up for change.

Fear is a debilitating emotion. Women and girls can't make our lives small enough to guarantee our own personal safety since, statistically speaking, most danger comes from those we know.

Some fear is essential and adaptive. But fear should have a small place in a life well lived. Rather than box our teenage girls into a small, scared, meek place, let's give them the skills and the knowledge to move from "I'm scared" to "I'm strong."

Twenty-eight local girls ages 12 to 16 took a great step in that direction last weekend, completing a 12-hour women's self-defense intensive for teen girls at The Sanctuary in Arcata. On May 19 and 20, more girls will stand up and do the same. Not because anyone should have to defend themselves against violence but because it helps to have a few tools in your belt to walk through your fears ... right out of that small box ... to discover that, overwhelmingly, the world is a friendly place.

Bella Holmes, Arcata

Editor's Note: The headline of the referenced story, "We're Scared," which packaged excerpts from dozens of short opinion pieces submitted by local high school students on the topic of gun violence, was taken from one of the submissions. We chose this headline because we felt it accurately reflected a theme across most — if not all — of the submissions we received, namely that our high school students are afraid of a mass shooting occurring locally, that to them it doesn't feel like an abstract possibility but a tangible reality.


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