For Autumn

It is time we insist our children are protected. No matter what the cost.

I am once again sitting in my living room crying. Another child is dead. Two teenagers are under arrest, and the world just keeps spinning. It seems unreal, unfair and unimaginable, and yet, we have been here before, too many times.

And I am done with excuses, done with accepting that this type of violence has no cure. It isn’t and it does.

What drove these two boys to beat and strangle a 12 year old girl to death? Evidently, they are known in the town of Claymont, NJ as thugs and thieves. What kind of world do we live in that breeds this kind of child?

For years I have been quietly talking with people about introducing self-defense and martial arts training into our schools. I don’t like it, but that is what we have come to. I want to see us awarding black belts along with awards for academics and have sparring events as well as musicals. Our children need us to speak up and speak out.

No, this won’t stop every act of violence, but I bet after a few thugs get beat up by a girl, they’ll think twice before trying that next time.

I had my own scare a few months ago. My daughter walked out after an argument. At first, I was not concerned. I myself have done this to give us a chance to cool off during an argument. I go for a walk around the block, or go for a ride. On this night, she was gone for two hours and I started to worry, just a month or so before, a young man was murdered only a mile or so from our house during an attempted mugging.

I got in my car and started to drive to all the local parks, calling her friends, asking if they had heard from her. As it got darker, I became more frantic. She had left her cell phone at home and I had no idea where she was. By the time I called the police I was in a full-blown panic. The two officers who came to our house recognized me, and were doing their best to reassure me, kids walk out all the time after an argument, she was going to be fine.

Thankfully, one officer went to look for her and found her walking toward home. He let her walk home but paced her in the car. When she got to our driveway, the police officer told her that I had called them, very worried about her safety. I’ll never forget what my daughter said, “She doesn’t care about me, she is so mean to me.” She went on to explain that she had just done what I had done, walked out, left her alone. The officer said to her, “But she always came back right?” He went on to explain to her how lucky she was. That instead of losing my temper, I would give us a break, cool down and allow the argument to be defused. He told her he responded to numerous calls and could tell her stories about kids who weren’t so lucky, kids who he had to help when their parents didn’t take a break, go for walk, or take a drive.

So I am sitting here, remembering my panic, that only lasted a few hours, and I am heart-broken for Autumn Pasquale’s family. I cannot imagine the unbearable pain they are in. The news is reporting that it was the mother of the two boys who called the police. So I cannot imagine her pain either.

But my sadness has an edge to it. I am angry. Really, really angry. This is not acceptable. Children being killed by children. What kind of society do we live in that we have children beating and strangling other children?

And don’t bother to tell me this is not the time to politicize a tragedy. This is exactly the time. When you have huge disparities in income. When you have abject poverty of some and absolute wealth and power of others. When you have workers who can barely pay for food and have no health insurance and others who have elevators for their cars and fly their horse first class to play dress-up, there is something very wrong with society.

We have some schools with pools and planetariums and others without books or heat. We have parents unable to pay for after-school care, and others who are chauffeured to private schools with private chefs. It is way past time to politicize this. Our country is losing its moral center. And this isn’t about religion in schools, this is about fairness in our society.

And it is up to us, the adults, to insist on a change. No more talk about how we can’t afford education. How we can’t afford entitlements and programs to help the poor. What we can’t afford is another child dying. What we can’t afford is another child killing. What we can’t afford is another day where this is ignored.

It is time we insist our children are protected. No matter what the cost.


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. October 24, 2012 at 03:55 PM
Lisa, while you make some good points, wouldn't introducing self-defense and martial arts training into our schools just make the bullies "tougher" too? In fact, the "bullies" would be far more likely to use what they learn in an agressive manner against other kids. Clearly you are upset (with good reason) but "awarding black belts along with awards for academics and have sparring events as well as musicals" won't stop youth violence. In fact, it may only make it worse. This is America, not Sparta.
Lisa Longo October 24, 2012 at 09:46 PM
I have been researching this, and actually, marital arts training has been shown to reduce bullying. Part of the training has to do with respect for your own power and teaching kids to respect each other as well.
Lisa Longo October 24, 2012 at 09:49 PM
Wow Bernie, are you back with another fake profile? It really is sad when people use a fake name, can't you own your opinions? What public programs? Gym class? Which entitlement? This comment is nonsensical, there is nothing immoral about providing education, even Ayn Rand said so, actually what she said in Atlas Shrugged was pretty clear: Be it a highwayman who confronts a traveler with the ultimatum: 'Your money or your life', or a politician who confronts a country with the ulitmatum: 'Your children's education or your life' the meaning of that ultimatum is: 'Your mind or your life' and neither is possible to man without the other.
Lisa Longo October 24, 2012 at 09:50 PM
And she also wrote this: "It there are degrees of evil, it is hard to say whos it the more contemptible: the brute who assumes the right to force the minid ot others or the moral degenerate who grants to others the right to force his mind. THAT is the moral absolute one does not leave open to debate. I do not grant the terms of reason to men who propose to deprive me of reason. I so not enter discussions with neighbors who think they can forbid me to think. I do not place my more moral sanction upon a murderer's wish to kill me. When a man attempts to deal with me by force, I answer him - by force."
Lisa Longo October 24, 2012 at 09:54 PM
I think it is very clear who plays the role of both moocher and gunman. It could not be more clear that some of us choose reason and logic, while propose to use force. My point in writing this essay was to point out, that in any society, when you create a class or even caste system, those who feel disenfranchised with the system often become filled with rage and act out in anger. We see this many countries and I am only pointing out that perhaps, we as American's need to understand what causes people to become murderers and whether there is a socio-economic aspect to this horrific act.
Realist October 25, 2012 at 12:19 AM
Lisa, Don't you have at least 2 Facebook pages? Pot meet kettle.
Lisa Longo October 25, 2012 at 12:32 AM
Actually I have 1 personal FB page, the others are public group pages, not fake profiles so I can make snide comments under a false persona. Despite trolls and threats, I continue to post under my real name, and am proud to do so. You are welcome to join any of our public groups. National Women's Party 2.0, National Eco Party, and my public page for my writing, Lisa Longo. Coming soon, our education page. Anyone interested in more info let me know.
Realist October 25, 2012 at 11:51 AM
Lisa Which one is for the public group page? Li Longo or Lisa Longo? Thanks for the invite but your columns here and public rants are enough comic relief.
Realist October 25, 2012 at 11:53 AM
It’s really sad that you used this tragedy as soapbox for your political and personal views.
Lisa Longo October 25, 2012 at 12:28 PM
It's even sadder to see people hide behind profile names and who can't stand up and make statements under their real name. No it is not sad to say that this and other tragedies may be linked to socio-economic issues and that it is time for a conversation on this and other issues. What is sad is that so few people are willing to have those difficulit conversations.


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