Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Beyond FEAR: “Girls as Targets” article on

Tamika Payne, Executive Director of Denver-based Colorado Coalition Against Sexual Assault, is interviewed in the article “Girls as Targets: Recent School Shootings” posted on In her discussion of the school shootings and assaults in Bailey, Colorado, and Nickel Mines, Pennsylvania, Payne emphasizes the need to talk to all children about the reality of sexual violence, especially the fact that such incidents are not ever a child’s fault.

As a writer, I automatically imagine everything that such violent acts set into motion: the trauma inflicted on the survivors and their families that they’ll have to deal with for the rest of their lives, the anguish of the victims’ families. What about the sisters of the girls who were killed? My two girls are best friends; I can’t imagine one of them suffering the loss of the other. What of the teachers, the administrators, the people in whose care these children were trusted? The day of the Columbine shootings (this is such a tame word, really, when in reality multiple murders took place then and this past week, not just “shootings”) happened in April 1999, one of my brothers called to make sure we were all right. A dad to three teenagers at the time, he remarked that the one place in the world where we like to assume our children are always safe is at school. How I wish we could be right in that assumption, how I wish no school “shootings” ever occurred.

In the article, Tamika Payne also notes that sexual violence needs to be addressed long before highly publicized incidents occur. Organizations like the Colorado Coalition Against Sexual Assault deserve recognition for their efforts to keep this difficult, painful subject in the forefront of the public consciousness. Only through such efforts will sexual violence ever be effectively addressed.

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