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Last night, I woke up at 2:00 a.m. to the sound of my cell phone alerting me of an email. The middle of the night seems to be my best thinking time these days, as swim/soccer/hockey practices and four kids seem to occupy mind during the daylight hours. I read the brief, unimportant email and started to browse other things on my phone when I noticed a headline about the Prime Minister of New Zealand and her comments regarding the names of the terrorist who took the lives of forty-nine victims.

“He sought many things from his act of terror, but one was notoriety,” Ardern said. “And that is why you will never hear me mention his name.” She added, “He is a terrorist, he is a criminal, he is an extremist. But he will, when I speak, be nameless.”

Wow. Sleep did not come easily to me after reading her words. I thought to myself, She gets it! And, I agree with her stance. I even write about it my book, Over My Shoulder. These are my words:

“I feel strongly that the stories the general media should be discussing are the lives that were taken too soon. Those are the precious faces that should be receiving attention on television. People left to sit in heavy grief over their losses deserve public gestures of love and compassion, not racy stories about killers’ backgrounds and perceived motives. In home videos, the Columbine shooters made it clear that they knew their names would become household terms; they wanted this, and the media gave it to them. To this day, the media continues to cover killers’ life stories incessantly after every tragic event. I wish they understood how this type of coverage rubs coarse salt into the wounds of survivors.”

I recall visiting Virginia Tech a couple days after the on-campus shooting in 2007, and feeling sick to my stomach that I knew the name of the killer but none of the names of the victims. It is for this reason, and my desire to honor my classmates whose lives were cut short, that you will not find the names of the Columbine shooters in my book. I have no desire to fulfill their sick wish to be known in every household because of something so horrible. You will rarely hear their names come out of the mouths of any of my family members either.

Prime Minister Arden understands that giving notoriety to the monsters who commit such evil acts, glorifies them in the minds of others who crave the same kind of attention. I stand beside her effort, believing that spending less time focusing on the attacker frees up more time to honor the lives of those lost in these terrible tragedies.

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