After 'Dark Knight Rises' theater shooting, parents worry

Scripps Howard News Service


Scripps Howard News Service

Parenting bloggers on Friday expressed their fears and shared their shock as news spread of the shooting in Colorado at a showing of the new Batman movie, "The Dark Knight Rises."

The tragedy left some parents both confused and uncertain about how to react, especially regarding ways to ensure that going to the movies is safe.

A deadly fire in a theater a century ago led to a law requiring unlocked exit doors. But there isn't a quick fix to a seemingly random shooting. The National Association of Theater Owners said in a statement that its members are working closely with local law-enforcement agencies, and reviewing security procedures, but had no other specifics.

"It's devastating," said Nell Minow, a writer who rates films from a parent's perspective and is known as "The Movie Mom." ''... This event opens up a whole new category of vulnerability. And every new venue that all of the sudden becomes vulnerable is a terrible loss."

At the parenting website BabyCenter, blogger Sara McGinnis wrote of watching news of the shooting while her 6- and 7-year-olds slept upstairs. "They love Batman," she wrote, "as all young boys do."

But like Minow, she sees the shootings as a turning point.

"When you or I take our kids to the park today, or stop at the grocery store, we'll be acting upon unspoken faith that our fellow humans will abide by a code of conduct. That code isn't broken all too often, but when it is I find no way to make sense of the events -- nor find any redeeming lesson to be learned."

The moviegoers "couldn't have known," she added. "You can't watch out for that."

Mile High Mamas, which describes itself as a resource for Denver-area parents, quickly posted a guide on talking to kids about the tragedy. One commentator wondered whether the shooting might prompt parents to reconsider the norm for personal safety: "Is it too much to think about having a lightweight body-armor panel in your backpack when you go to the movies, the mall or the grocery store?"

At DC Urban Moms and Dads, some commentators cautioned against blaming the shooter's parents. Several called for better mental-health-care services.

Police in New York and elsewhere have said they will beef up security around theaters showing the film. Still, parents should understand that it's normal to be "a little more scared about sending their kids off to the movies alone," Minow said.

"We like to think that when we go to the theater, the only scary thing is going to be the movie," Minow said. "... This kind of random attack is by definition something you can't protect against. It's a scary world out there."

(Distributed by Scripps Howard News Service, http://www.scrippsnews.com)