When people get news they don't want to hear, they often react by blaming the messenger. It is sometimes the obligation of a credible newspaper to fill the unpopular role of delivering bad news. But blaming the newspaper for reporting on a problem doesn't solve the problem.
Last week we reported that deputies responded to a party being held for students at Newton High School, some of whom were members of the high school football team. While there, a deputy was witness to the fact that shots were being fired, and later found shell casings that indicated someone had been firing a TEC-9.
That's a real gun. Shooting real bullets. The kind that kill people.
The reporting of that fact has angered some local parents, school administrators and the NHS football coach. Their perspective, as made evident in telephone calls and letters since the publication of the story, is that the event should never have been reported at all, and certainly not without permission of the school system and football coach.
We repeat: It was a real gun. Shooting real bullets. The kind that kill people.
It's sad to see such misguided concerns from adults responsible for parenting and educating our young people. This newspaper firmly believes that the people of this community need to know that their children were at a party where shots were fired and lives were endangered. Surely, somewhere, more reasonable parents can appreciate the value of such knowledge and will use in to protect their teens in the future.
Parents have chastised us for not seeking permission from the coach and school before reporting on the party. Our readers deserve better than news reporting that is censored by those in authority. If those parents expressed the same degree of outrage over the event itself and the behavior of those responsible, a life might be saved somewhere along the way.
As for the school officials, more time spent in honest appraisal of what happened and a lot less venom directed toward the newspaper for reporting the incident would have a far more positive impact on teens at Newton High School.
Get some perspective people - local teens were involved in a party, to which deputies had to be sent after reports of fighting among large groups of people, and at which multiple shots were fired - and you are worried about whether it makes the school or the football team look bad. Well, it does, but not nearly as bad as parents and school officials look when they insist on keeping their heads buried in the sand and ignoring the realities around them.
Maybe some of those parents are using outrage to mask their own guilt in letting their children go to a party without knowing what was going on. Maybe some of the school officials are using their outrage to mask their guilt for worrying more about the school system's reputation than the safety of local teenagers.
It's easy to blame the messenger. It takes moral conviction and strength of character to deal with the message.
We know that we live in a community that cares about the welfare and safety of its children either in school or out of school, let us here from you, pro or con, let us know if you think this incident was just one of those unfortunate occurrences or was this incident a wake up call for all of us parents or grandparents or just caring citizens to come together and come up with a plan that will allow our children to grow and play in the same type of community that we grew up in.
We will make the space available for any and all comments.