An Open Letter To The Media

I read the articles you wrote about an elementary school student who returned to school as a different gender than before.

KOKH FOX25 and KSDK News Channel 5, I write to you.

As a parent, I need to understand the reason for your blatant disregard of privacy and negligent concern of the results.  So I have to ask:

Was this a newsworthy topic? Did the public need to be informed? Was it for the greater good?

Or . .

Did you  just take a situation that was handled excellently and within best interest of the child and make it open to public ridicule and debate, just to keep a hot topic posted on your news feed?

I’m appalled (though not surprised) that you so easily created a public debate among the entire state (KOKH). You know this is Oklahoma. You wanted a rise.

You made light of  a child’s diversity, struggle and health, and then passed it off as news because you knew it would get a response!

Maybe it is acceptable for you to do such a thing to your own children, but you should stand behind the children of this nation and this state, and acknowledge their vulnerability and their right to dignity as you are supposed to do!

You represent the people. You represent the state. You lead the crowd.

You blurred the lines of the law for profit.

Shame on you.

These articles could have been presented a different way. You could have not named the school. You could have not named the child’s real first name or new name! You could have written an article that was a general inquisition about how Gender Identity Disorder impacts children. Then, you could have posed the question to readers about how they think it may/may not impact the students. You could have refrained from indirectly exposing her medical diagnosis.

But you didn’t.

What you did do was negligently overlook a child’s rights, feelings and psychological development. All for the purpose of stirring the pot, raising the ratings and keeping at the top!

The media is supposed to push boundaries. The media also has boundaries, especially when it comes to children!

Did you ask this child if you could share her story? Did the family consent to this exposure by you? Why have we not heard from them? Oh, wait! That’s because they took proper steps and were advised by medical professionals. They took every possible step they could to help guide their young child through this  very difficult transition and to help her feel comfortable at school.

Here’s what you were supposed to do.

“Journalistic activity which touches on the lives and welfare of children should always be carried out with appreciation of the vulnerable situation of children. Journalists and media organisations shall strive to maintain the highest standards of ethical conduct in reporting children’s affairs and, in particular, they shall:

  • Strive for standards of excellence in terms of accuracy and sensitivity when reporting on issues involving children. (Was this sensitive to you? Did you keep her in mind as you displayed her school, and new name as if maybe a plethora of children did this, so maybe no one will know it’s her?!)
  • Avoid programming and publication of images which intrude upon the media space of children with information which is damaging to them (Like if this child were to go view your article and all that the world has to say about her and her parents?!)
  • Avoid the use of stereotypes and sensational presentation to promote journalistic material involving children (like your article).
  • Consider carefully the consequences of publication of any material concerning children and shall minimise harm to children (like public humiliation and bullying).
  • Guard against visually or otherwise identifying children unless it is demonstrably in the public interest; (Yet passively you did!)
  • Give children, where possible, the right of access to media to express their own opinions without inducement of any kind. (Where was this child you chose to exploit? Did she have a voice?)”

Perhaps, you should read over The Media & Child’s Rights via  UNICEF.

This was negligence by choice.

A sad portrayal of the damage the media can do when it seeks ratings and money, instead of remembering that they are the voice of the people! 

Every single action was taken to make sure this was a smooth transition and that her emotional and mental well-being were kept in mind. All that you did was name names, identify the school, and expose an already vulnerable child to public ridicule, humiliation, bullying and debate.

Yet, you believe that it was okay because you danced around the rules?

What if this was your child? How would you feel as you sat back feeling like you had to protect your son or daughter from his/her classmates, but then end up defending your child to the adults of the town and the general public, the internet and local grocery stores, and the  PTA?

Adults need to be talking about the hard topics and controversial issues, 

If Making The Elderly Vulnerable To Bullying Is Our Solution – We’re In Trouble

‘I AM A BULLY’ sign-holder calls sentence unfair after a judge rules for him hold a sign while sitting on the side of the road, seen by any onlooker and exploited by the media.

I disagree.

I understand the intention behind this ruling. I just do not agree with it.

Whether we like it or not, whether we agree with it, and even if we think they deserve everything that comes at them, criminals still have rights! Mean, thoughtless, senseless, hateful and harmful people, still have rights!

As a nation, we seem to have adopted an attitude of  “they deserve it,” while at the same time abandoning a justice system of which we claim to be proud.

We forget that personal opinion has no bearing in a court of law. 

We’ve stopped supporting the very foundation of our freedoms and our rights. Meanwhile, statements such as, “What a lowlife. Who picks on kids with disabilities? He got what he deserves” echo throughout the news feed.

Not just in this case, but even those concerning our children! If legal matters were meant to be handled outside the written law, why do our laws exist?

Laws exist to protect the people.

According to the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services,

The Ohio Revised Code (ORC) defines “abuse” as infliction upon an adult by self or others of injury, unreasonable confinement, intimidation or cruel punishment with resulting physical harm, pain, or mental anguish.

Furthermore, they go on to define emotional abuse as occurring:

When a person is threatened, humiliated, intimidated or otherwise psychologically hurt. —Ohio, Adult Protective Services (APS)

Was this man threatened? I wonder if drivers/passengers that passed by yelled out crude things to him. How do we know whether or not threats were among them?

Was this man humiliated? Yes, he was.

Was he intimidated? Yes, he was. We can see him with his head hung, as he exploits himself in public because a trusted Judge (who is also there to protect his rights) has ordered him to do so, as a probation officer stayed close by to ensure that he did as he was ordered to do. Yes, intimidation was a factor.

Lastly, was this man psychologically hurt? In his own words, “The judge destroyed me.” Yes, of course, he was!

We either stand behind our laws or we don’t.

APS guidelines are present to protect citizens that are the age of sixty or older.

If that was my loved one, I would have been outraged. What if that was your father or mother, husband or wife, grandma or grandpa?

I bet many of the people who are so easily supporting this verdict would think differently if it was one of their family members holding that sign and exposed to such humiliation and possible harm.

What perplexes me the most is why we are not questioning how our justice system failed to assist the family that was victimized by Aviv’s actions. Fifteen years of harassment and they are just now taking action. Yet the courts have documented reports of his behavior?

I am more upset that law enforcement has not intervened before this point.

We view his actions as beyond horrible because they transpired for 15 years and readers are enraged that the victims were disabled.

Personally, I’m upset for the mother who did not get help before now. I am upset for the children that suffered so long because no action was taken on their behalf.

Why do we seek to throw rocks at the criminal but not also question how this type of bullying is allowed for fifteen years?

Now what?

After his jail time, Aviv will walk the streets alone and exploited, and there will not be a corrections officer by his side, or anyone to protect him! He will face the world in fear. He will become a potential victim now that he has been publicly and nationally labeled as a “bully that picks on disabled children” and described as “intolerant” of anyone different from him.

Those are strong and provoking words, and they were carefully articulated by the judge. All this sentence did was make someone else a target and put this elderly man’s safety and well-being at risk over a charge of misdemeanor disorderly conduct.

It’s unacceptable.

After winning the election for city’s municipal court judge, Judge Byers (who made this ruling) said,

I was surprised, pleasantly. I was also reminded of how awesome and important the job ahead of me is. I’m humbled by the opportunity to serve the people of South Euclid —Jeff Piorkowski, 2011, via Sun News

I would say she failed one person with this case.

No one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.

Article 5 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights is exactly what was violated in Aviv’s case. “But he’s a ‘monster’ that bullied disabled children”  you might reason and rationalize in an attempt to feel like true justice was served! But his actions do not take away his rights. Article 2 states, “Everyone is entitled to all the rights and freedoms set forth in this Declaration, without distinction of a kind, such as race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status.”

Everyone means everyone.

Have we really become so full of hatred and discontented that we are willing to abandon the right for all Americans to be treated with dignity and respect?

More importantly, will we be willing to stand behind that decision in the years to come as our society becomes more reckless and more dangerous every day?

We walk a fine line when we begin to let our emotions rule our thinking and become comfortable with small acts that violate our basic human rights, simply because our anger tells us justice can only be achieved through revenge, humiliation or degradation.

Wake up, America! The world we create today is the world our children have to live in tomorrow.

Get behind the laws that are there to protect us or raise your voice to change them!

But do not continue to allow our rights to be trampled on and dismissed!

“United we stand, divided we fall!”