Fighting through a wannabe migraine right now, but the sunshine pouring through my living room windows is too pretty to give up for lying down in a dark room. Sometimes I get them after stressful days and looking back on yesterday, I'm thinking that could be part of it.
I had a hard time from the start getting elements together for the first story of the day--a woman who is accused of shoplifting pepper sprayed a uniformed police officer when he attempted to stop her. An off-duty cop who happened to be shopping with his wife saw it happened and was able to subdue the suspect who is now faced with felony charges, all for a couple t-shirts. We finally scored an interview with the off-duty officer, and as we were finishing up, found out about another pepper spray incident from earlier in the day. A 15-year-old high school freshman sprayed another girl in the face after gym class.
It was about 2:40 by then (pretty late in the game to completely change stories) but we arranged for an interview with the accused "attacker" and her mother, so it was a clear winner over the story we'd already spent 4 hours, 3 interviews and a lot of phone calls on. But that's tv news right??
As I spoke to the mother of the teen involved, I realized this was not what I anticipated (which happens all the time in this job and sometimes the hard part is accepting that and still putting together a solid piece). The mother and her daughter's side of the story was about a subject that's been all over the news the last few years: bullying. I've never done a bullying story so I've managed to keep myself emotionally distant from the topic. But talking to this young lady and her mom quickly changed that.
It was one of those situations I really don't like -- a fascinating story about a much bigger issue that deserves to be talked about but there's just not enough time in the day. It was already after 3 and we had to 2 more places to go, interviews to log, a script to write and a story to edit before our live hit at 5:01. Whew. With each question and answer I had 3 more I wanted to ask. This girl said she's been bullied for weeks. Hair pulled on the bus, someone grabbing her shoe off her foot in gym class, then pointing and laughing in the locker room as she changed. (Of course this is one side of the story.) And that's just the physical torment, not to mention the name-calling, other girls walking right up to her and saying "I don't like you." Ask yourself how many times you'd really, honestly be able to let that go without bothering you. One of the things that struck me was the mother explaining her attempts to teach her daughter to value herself, love her body, her mind--but how is a 15-year-old supposed to fight all those other voices that seem so much louder, especially in the tumultuous teen years?? I certainly don't have an answer. But shouldn't we be doing everything in our power to find one and teach our girls to love themselves and each other?
My hope for yesterday's story is that it sparked a few dinner conversations in Hampton Roads. Or maybe one young girl out there saw it and decided to be a little nicer, or reach out to someone at school. Even if it just made one person stop and think I hope the end result is that somebody's life is a little better because of it.
Here's a link to the story, if you'd like to watch.