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How Do You Make Sense of the UC Santa Barbara Shootings?

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Yesterday, a couple of my coworkers and I had an impromptu meeting about how the eHow editorial department should cover the UC Santa Barbara shootings–if at all. This isn’t the sort of current event that we normally delve into, but we do exist to help our readers. The general idea behind the meeting was; ‘Is there a way to help eHow readers understand a little bit about why the shootings happened–is there a way to help in general?’

I didn’t think too deeply about the shootings initially… possibly because these sort of horrible occurrences happen often and details are generally the same. Also because it happened on the eve of a holiday weekend. (I purposely kept away from as much media as possible over the extended holiday weekend.) But Monday night I was flipping through some of my usual destinations on the Internet and I kept seeing the hashtag #YesAllWomen and realized this was one person’s clearly defined sense of anger towards women.

Then I came across two occurrences that made it real. The first one was something controversial a female friend wrote on Twitter with the #YesAllWomen trending hashtag. It’s far profane to repeat here, but it got my attention, and her bold, positive message stuck with me since.

The second was when I sat in yesterday’s aforementioned editorial meeting and one of my co-workers, a recent college grad, was explaining throughout the pitch session about how upset she was over the weekend. I eventually realized that situations like the UCSB shootings are just one of hundreds of horrible situations women are forced to worry about every day.

Everything routine from walking alone in a darkened parking lot to inventing imaginary boyfriends so “overenthusiastic” guys back off after repeatedly being told, “Thanks, but I’m not interested.”

So how do you make sense of the UCSB shootings? How do you write an eHow article addressing the power of the #YesAllWomen movement. I first thought about maybe some sort of list about how young women can better protect themselves against potential violence, but that seemed pointless. Women have lived with these sorts of fears forever–there’s nothing they don’t already know about protecting themselves–the tricks and interference they have to run just so they don’t get harassed doing something as ordinary as walking down a sidewalk.

When I wrestle with it, I don’t think there’s a way to explain the reasons for shootings. A lot of writers in the media have tried and judging from radically mixed reader responses, there are absolutely no concrete reasons. We can guess, assume, study data–there are dozens of pieces of evidence we can blame, but the best thing we can hope for is that last Friday’s events open up thoughtful dialog between adults and kids; parents and children; teachers and students.

As a dad with two young daughters, this is all really new to me and I’m just as confused as everyone. The more I read about the UCSB shooting, the more I’m perplexed about how to bring it up to my girls. I don’t know–what do you think? Where do we start with our kids? How do we take steps in advising and educating the younger kids as well as the older teens?

Photo credit: Getty Images

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