Did anyone realize something like Trayvon Martin’s death could happen in 2012 in America? ?
On Feb. 26, 2012, the black, unarmed 17-year-old was shot and killed by George Zimmerman, a volunteer neighborhood watchman of Hispanic descent, after he saw and followed the boy, who was headed home from a trip to a convenience store.
Martin was wearing a hooded sweatshirt and walking back to his father’s residence in a gated Sanford, Fla. community.
Zimmerman was not immediately arrested, which caused a flood of national protest, but was detained Wednesday – 44 days later – after special prosecutor Angela Corey charged him with second-degree murder.
This event has sparked often polarizing discussions about racism, profiling, gun control and self defense. Claims that President Obama used this incident to his political advantage by stating that if he had a son, “he would look like Trayvon Martin,” are also stirred up controversy.
Unquestionably, this is a difficult case to discuss here. But what we can consider as parents is how we can try to prepare our children to avoid putting themselves in a similar situation.
Parents Talk attempts to answer this question: How do we talk with our children about what happened to Trayvon Martin and help them mitigate potentially negative situations?
Tonia Accetta: I do not believe that we can! This is a tragic event that took place in Florida where a young man, Trayvon Martin, has lost his life. If we are not to prejudge either party, then all we have is a tragic night where no amount of preparation could have prevented the outcome. When talking to our children about safety, gun safety is a topic to discuss, but I can't see how any conversation could have prevented this act. Please tighten the gun laws because the idea of people being allowed to walk around our neighborhoods with guns ready to fire is a frightening thought indeed!
Tam Dorow: I am sad and disappointed for us all that the Trayvon Martin shooting occurred. Even in 2012, a child in America can be shot and killed for no apparent reason other than the color of his skin. Trayvon Martin was a child, one of our children, one we should have loved and cared for as a society. That a man like George Zimmerman had, within minutes of laying eyes on Trayvon, decided to pursue him, accosted him, then shot and killed him is barbaric.
Compounding the flippant disregard for his life is how the Sanford, Fla. police department chose to treat this killing. It's even more shocking. For anyone to invoke the state of Florida's “Stand Your Ground” law as the basis for Zimmerman's actions is preposterous. Did “Stand Your Ground” apply to Trayvon? Did Trayvon get a chance to stand his ground? Am I missing something here? Does the “Stand Your Ground” law only apply if you possess a gun, and is there an associated “Dodge the Bullet” law? Can justice only be achieved via the Internet through thousands of outraged people?
It is shameful how the killing of a child has been handled. Sadly, we have to teach our children that their lives can be at risk at any moment, by anyone, that appearances do matter. This is another instance of the “world is a dangerous place.” Sometimes common sense and justice do not prevail. Care and precaution must be practiced. Misunderstandings and maliciousness abound. I mourn the loss of our children's innocence.
Suzette Valle – It is a devastating tragedy for any family to lose a child, and the circumstances in Trayvon Martin’s senseless death make it that much harder to understand. Is this a teachable moment? It can be, but the lessons aren’t that clear. Looking suspicious shouldn’t be enough to warrant an armed person to approach a child, but it happened. We need to make our children aware that there are situations that may trigger adverse reactions from others – merited or not – and can escalate with irreversible results.
It might be wise to tell kids to always take a moment to think about how actions or attitude might put their life in jeopardy. Think about your own safety first – your life may depend on it.
Tonia Accetta is stay-at-home mom of a teenage boy and a preteen girl. She moved to Coronado in 2002 with her husband of 15 years.
Tam Dorow emigrated from Vietnam when she was 10. She worked at all of the Big 3 U.S. car companies and has been a stay-at-home mom of two for the last 10 years.
Suzette Valle is a 20-year Coronado resident who was recognized by Time Warner as one of the local “50 Best Moms” in 2006. She has appeared on the Dr. Phil Show and blogs at MamarazziKnowsBest.com.