The Youngest Victims of the Aurora Tragedy

Should children have been in Theatre 9?


It's nearly impossible to wrap my brain around that unfolded at a Century movie theatre in Aurora, Colorado.

By now, we all know that a mad man (whose name I refuse to type because I don't want to give him more notoriety) stood before a crowd that had gathered to watch the midnight screening of the film The Dark Knight Rises.

Dressed in full riot gear, the assassin allegedly tossed tear gas canisters onto the floor, then mercilessly opened fire on the crowd. In the end, 12 people were killed and 59 were injured.

As stories of the massacre hit the media, I have to admit that I was surprised to discover just how many children were in the theatre that terrifying night. The tragedy started several debates, such as the need for stricter gun control, but many people have been questioning why children were at a midnight screening of a PG-13 movie in the first place.

Reports have named a baby as young as 3-months-old as being one of the injured. A six-year-old girl named Veronica Moser-Sullivan was among the victims who lost their lives that night. A young family barely escaped with their lives.

Jamie Rohrs, and his fiancee, Patricia Legarreta, attended the screeing with their four-month-old son and four-year-old daughter. In an interview with ABC news, Rohrs said the two took their children to the show because they figured they'd sleep through it.

"We just moved here from New Mexico," he said. "We have to go out. We have to do things. You don't think you're going to get shot. You're just living your life."

I'm not claiming to be an expert on parenting, but I would not take my children to see a PG-13 film. Of course, I have two very sensitive boys who get nervous just walking into a dark movie theatre. Not to mention that if I attempted to take my 3-year-old to a movie that started as late as midnight, his exhausted fussing would be louder than the film itself.

That being said, I don't fail to see the parallels between the real life atrocities witnessed at the screening and the violent images presented in The Dark Knight Rises. The villain, Bane, sets a reign of terror on Gotham City and goes so far as to blow up a football stadium, killing innocent football players.

I believe that we would have a better chance at raising peaceful adults if children were not exposed to extreme media violence early in their lives. It makes me sick to think that innocent children were killed, injured, or even that they saw such terror.

I am not placing blame on the parents of the young victims or witnesses of the horrible incident. My heart goes on to every single person who was in the theatre that fateful night. After all, parents should be able to take their children wherever they choose without the fear of a mentally deranged person opening fire in front of them.

I know that lives were lost and that now is not the time to pass judgment. My hope is that as our nation heals from this nightmare, we can reflect on the changes that we can make as parents to promote peace in our world instead of violence.

Would you take your children to see a midnight screening of a PG-13 movie? Do you think that movie violence can influence children? Please share your thoughts and experiences in the comments.

Rebecca McCarthy July 26, 2012 at 02:37 AM
Thanks for your comments.
Leigh Hewett July 26, 2012 at 11:34 AM
Himmat, I understand your perspective but if you knew me in real life you would know that I actually have a very compassionate heart. The last thing that I want to do is cause more heartache for a grieving mother and I actually spent a good amount of time meditating on this article, to write it with integrity and I stand by what I've said here. I think that it's natural to reflect on your own life after a tragedy like this happens. To ponder how easily it could have been you or your child in that position. To think about what you may do the same or different as the victims. I also think that it's important to talk about uncomfortable topics, if it can bring healing and change. I hope that you can see the difference between bashing that poor mother and trying to open a respectful dialogue. I'm sorry that you see this in a negative light and hope that we can all find healing in the wake of this terrible event. Thank you for taking the time to read and comment.
Linda Jakab July 27, 2012 at 05:58 AM
Your first thoughts were mine too Linda. My kids are currently wearing out the DVD of Harry Potter 3, but we read the book together first and my partner and I have both seen the film. I wouldn't let my kids watch a PG movie without my preview because the rating doesn't reflect enough detail. For example, a local TV station recently played "Coraline" in the family 6.30 time slot. I love that movie but there is no way I am subjecting my 4 and 7 year old to that mind twisting plot.
Linda Labbo July 27, 2012 at 01:31 PM
Just another thought. I was in Colorado when the shooting happened. Some of my family and friends lost loved ones or had a friend injured by the shooting. I join them in grieving deeply, and I know Leigh does as well. There were such acts of heroism and the best that humanity has to offer during this terrible tragedy. The outcome of such tragedy is to grieve with the victims, but to also take a few moments to reflect on your own life. Leigh invited readers to join her in wondering if they would take children to a midnight show. For me, I think about being in that dark chaos and finding the courage to help fallen friends and strangers. There were many heroes to be hailed in this awful situation. I know Leigh honors them, too.
Sue Anderson July 31, 2012 at 07:58 PM
I would take a new baby, yes, because he or she would be sleeping. And if the baby was not a reliable sleeper at midnight, I would leave him/her home. I would not take a child who would be awake. No way. Nohow. Because I totally think movie violence affects children.


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