I am deeply saddened by the senseless Patriot's Day Boston Marathon attacks on my beloved city and community. A day of celebration for so many became a day now forged in my memory with the heartbreaking loss of the lives of three innocent bystanders and an MIT police officer, and the more than 200 people injured.
The nationally televised interfaith service during which President Obama gave his moving talk offered all of us an opportunity to recognize collectively how much these lost and injured lives matter and how we are all effected, together, as a nation in sorrow. His message was one of unity and hope: "I'm here today on behalf of the American people with a simple message ―"Every one of us has been touched by this attack on your beloved city. Every one of us stands with you." While the city of Boston, our nation, and individuals in countries around the world grieve for the victims of this tragedy, we also join together to begin the healing process.
At Wheelock College, we honored the victims, their families, the first responders, and all those who were touched by this terrible event with an evening of remembrance organized by students with support from faculty and staff. Although we all mourn in different ways, we found comfort in each other, in sharing feelings within a loving and supportive community, and in the spoken words, poems, songs, and stories that came from our community.
While I am deeply troubled by these acts of violence, I am also inspired by the countless acts of courage and caring demonstrated by thousands of people, including our own Wheelock College community members ― one, a student who risked her life to stay and help small children at the bombing site at height of confusion and fear. Two other Wheelock students cared for stranded runners who made their way to our campus. Such acts of selflessness help us to keep in mind the goodness in people, that we are resilient, and that we live in a great city that will endure and thrive. Let us keep those affected by this tragedy in our thoughts and prayers and honor them by making a commitment to actively engage in making our world a better place.
During the next few days and weeks, we will learn more about the motives of the Tsarnaev brothers. We do know that in addition to homemade bombs, they did not have proper permits to carry the two handguns and rifle they used to exchange nearly 200 rounds of ammunition with police officers. It is unclear how the brothers obtained the guns. If they did purchase them online or at a gun show, this could add momentum to the movement to control gun ownership and expand background checks that was blocked by the U.S. Senate, despite public opinion polls showing that the majority of Americans support tougher gun laws. The need for a sensible approach to gun control is an issue if great concern to me, and I will continue to advocate for it and write about it in this blog.
At Wheelock College, where so many of our students, alumni, and professors work with children and families in the fields of education, child life, social work, and juvenile justice, we are too often faced with the challenge of helping children deal with violence in the news. Witnessing the Boston Marathon attacks, seeing horrifying news images of death and destruction, or even hearing about the violence can cause some children to be worried and confused. Parents, teachers, and counselors need to be prepared to talk with children and youth about the Marathon Day events and the complex range of emotions surrounding them. Here are some resources that can help in providing support for children of all ages:
Resources for Children Affected by the Boston Marathon Violence
How To Talk With Children About Boston Marathon Bombs
By Gene Beresin, M.D., at MGH
Talking with Young Children about Violence in the News
By Diane Levin, Wheelock College
Boston Marathon Explosions: Talking To Your Children